CONSERVE YOUR LAND
The Bethlehem Land Trust is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of farmland, undeveloped forests, and open space in the town of Bethlehem. The lands we protect fall into two categories:
Land Trust Ownership (owned by the Trust outright)
Conservation Easement (remains privately owned)
Land Trust Ownership
The Bethlehem Land Trust acquires land through outright donation by a property owner or, as our funds permit, by purchase. We provide stewardship for all properties we own, and offer public access to them where feasible. Property given to the Land Trust may be named after the donor if he or she so wishes.
A conservation easement or conservation restriction is a legal agreement between the landowner and the Land Trust that permanently limits the way the land may be used in order to protect its conservation value. The property remains privately owned and the owner may live on it if desired. Easements may be structured to meet the specific and mutual needs of the owner and the Land Trust. For farmland, an easement generally allows agricultural activity to continue. A conservation easement is permanent and should the landowner wish to sell or bequeath the property, the easement will pass to the new owner, who must honor it.
The Land Trust does not provide stewardship for eased properties but is required by law to monitor them at least once a year to see that the easement is being honored. Public access to eased land is generally not granted, although the landowner may offer access on an occasional or permanent basis, if he or she wishes.
The Bethlehem Land Trust is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization. All donations to the Trust are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Tax benefits vary with the type of donation and the circumstances at the time of the gift.
An outright donation of property may provide the donor with significant tax benefits, which can be structured and scheduled in various ways. Similar benefits accrue to a sale that is priced below market value.
Conservation easements offer tax benefits on both the federal and local level. The easement itself may be considered a charitable contribution and the designation may lower property taxes. A conservation easement may also reduce estate taxes. The specific benefits will vary depending on the value and circumstances at the time the easement is created and when the property passes to your heirs.
The Land Trust Alliance
The Bethlehem Land Trust is a member of the The Land Trust Alliance, a national organization representing more than 1,700 land trusts across America. The Land Trust Alliance advocates for public policies that support land trusts’ conservation goals, including increased land conservation funding and improved
tax incentives so that more landowners can afford to choose conservation.
For the latest news on conservation policy, tax benefits, and more detailed land preservation information, visit the Land Trust Alliance website: http://www.landtrustalliance.org/
We can explain the legal
and tax implications of land conservation and help you choose the option best for you. Should you wish to donate now or through your estate planning, we will assist and facilitate the process. Contact us.