We work with landowners to conserve all kinds of properties: historic homesteads and family lands, salmon streams, wildlife habitat, and undeveloped shoreline along our lakes and ponds.
The most common methods of conservation include the donation or the sale of a conservation easement (for full or less than full value). Some landowners choose to donate their land to us; others add provisions in their wills to bequeath their property or a conservation easement. These different options are described in detail below.
The decision to conserve your land using any of these options requires careful consideration of your personal financial circumstances, your land resource and, above all, your hopes for the future of your land. It is important to talk with your tax and legal advisers to understand all the benefits and implications of land conservation.
The time it takes to conserve land can range from six months to several years. In addition, there are usually some costs involved with conservation, including expenses for your personal advisers, appraisal fees, and, for certain types of projects, a contribution towards our stewardship costs.
We are always happy to discuss which land conservation method will best suit your personal goals.
Conservation Easement Donations
Thousands of acres of wetland and forestland that contribute to the unique character of Alaska have been permanently conserved by landowners who have donated conservation easements to the Great Land Trust. This popular method of conservation helps many families achieve their personal dream of protecting their land, while also making a lasting gift to their community and state. Landowners 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 10 acres or more. On occasion, we will conserve smaller parcels with high conservation value, 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 salmon streams, exceptional scenic vistas, high-quality agricultural soils, and wildlife habitat. We also give careful consideration to a landowner’s future plans or family interests, identifying appropriate sites for barns, homes, trails or other structures.
What are the financial benefits of donating an easement?
Landowners who donate qualified conservation easements are eligible for federal 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.
What are the costs of donating a conservation easement?
To help cover the costs of upholding your conservation easement in perpetuity, we ask for a one-time stewardship contribution. You will also be responsible for covering your own legal and appraisal expenses.
To learn more, please contact us and tell us more about your land.
If I conserve my land, does the public then have access to it?
No. While some conserved land is publicly owned and open to everyone, other conserved properties are family lands with no public recreation or access.
How long does it take?
Due to the grant application process and the time involved with raising money for conservation easement purchases, it can take one to two years to complete a conservation project.
How is the amount of the sale determined?
The price of a conservation easement is determined through an independent appraisal process, which assesses the value of the property’s “development rights,” often described as a collection of activities a landowner could typically conduct on their land, such as residential development, subdivision or other commercial uses of land.
Want to learn more?
The process of conserving a farm, land important to a community, or a large tract of forestland begins with a phone call to Great Land Trust. After discussing the opportunity, looking at maps, and visiting the property together, we can determine the next steps for the conservation of the property.
Conservation Easement Sales
When the protection of Southcentral Alaska’s best resources—farmland, estuaries, broad tracts of forestland, or places of great importance to a community—is at stake, we often seek funds to purchase a conservation easement, or occasionally a parcel of land, from a landowner. By purchasing conservation easements, we have protected subsistence hunting and fishing lands from development and also helped Native Corporations achieve results that benefit their shareholders.
Selling a Conservation Easement for Less Than Full Value
This approach combines the charitable aspect of a conservation easement donation with the financial incentives of a conservation easement sale. With this approach, also known as a bargain sale, a landowner sells a conservation easement, or occasionally a parcel of land, at less than full appraised value, thereby donating a portion of the value to the Great Land Trust.
Bargain sales usually occur on high-quality conservation land that a community wants to acquire for public use. For the landowner, the value that is donated may qualify as a charitable gift which can provide income tax benefits or offset other capital gains taxes arising from the sale of land or a conservation easement. Please contact us to learn more.
Donating Land to the Great Land Trust
A donation of land is one of the most generous gifts a landowner can make to the Great Land Trust. A gift of land can offer relief from the expenses and responsibilities of ownership and provide a number of tax benefits, including a federal income tax deduction.
Selling Land to the Great Land Trust
Occasionally, when an important piece of land is available, like the Campbell Creek Estuary, we will purchase the property.
In these special situations, we often serve as a short-term owner while we facilitate the permanent conservation and purchase of the land by the Municipality, Borough, or public agency. Community enthusiasm, financial support, and a vision for long-term ownership and use of the land are critical for land purchases.