More than five hundred landowners have donated conservation easements to the Vermont Land Trust on their family’s land. The forestland and farmland protected by these generous donations help maintain the unique, rural character of Vermont while allowing many families to achieve their personal dream of protecting the land they love. Those who choose to donate conservation easements will likely see tax benefits for their contribution. Landowners can also make donating a conservation easement part of their planned giving strategies.
How large does a land parcel need to be to conserve it?
Generally we work with landowners interested in donating an easement on 50 acres or more. On occasion, we will conserve smaller parcels with excellent resources, unique natural features, or significance to a community.
What is protected and what is allowed under a conservation easement?
Conservation easements are carefully tailored to protect the special attributes of a property, such as streams, vernal pools, exceptional scenic vistas, high quality agricultural soils, and timber resources. We also give careful consideration to a landowner’s future plans or family interests, identifying appropriate sites for sugarhouses, barns, homes, or other structures.
What are the financial benefits of donating an easement?
Landowners who donate qualified conservation easements are eligible for federal, and in some cases, state income tax deductions. These charitable deductions can help to offset income and capital gains taxes, and reduce the potential for future estate taxes.
The value of a conservation easement—and the charitable deduction associated with a donated easement—is determined through an independent appraisal process.
Once a conservation easement has been prepared, a landowner seeking a charitable deduction for his or her gift is advised to consult with a tax accountant or attorney and to obtain an appraisal to determine the value of the gift.
IRS criteria for charitable deductions and requirements for conservation easement appraisals— including the qualifications of the appraiser and the timing of the appraisal—must be carefully observed.
See more on tax benefits for donating an easement here.
What are the costs of donating a conservation easement?
To help cover the costs of upholding your conservation easement in perpetuity, we will ask for a one-time contribution towards our staff costs and a stewardship endowment for your project. Additionally, you will be responsible for covering your own legal and appraisal expenses.
To learn more, please contact us and tell us more about your land.