An outright gift of land for conservation is one of the most generous legacies a landowner can give future generations. Donating the title of your land to create a preserve is a simple transaction that ensures the land’s permanent protection and offers maximum income and estate tax benefits (while avoiding capital gains tax). Winnakee’s stewardship-focused conservation model ensures that these lands will benefit from long-term sustainable management plans that support environmental health and habitat restoration for imperiled species.
Conservation easements allow donors to retain ownership and use of their land, including agriculture, while protecting its conservation value in perpetuity. A conservation easement is a powerful way for a private landowner to ensure the permanent protection of a special natural place. Easement terms represent a voluntary legal agreement between the landowner and Winnakee, tailored to the specific property and the landowner’s goals. Landowners retain the right to sell, donate, or bequeath the land with the conservation easement carried on to all future owners so that the natural character of the land is protected forever. Provided that certain criteria are met, easements carry significant tax benefits. In addition, an easement on a cherished property may make the financial difference that enables your heirs to keep your land in the family. Learn more about Conservation Easements.
In some cases, land or other real estate is donated to Winnakee Land Trust with the understanding that it will be sold to generate needed funds for the organization’s conservation work. If the property has conservation value, the organization may sell the land subject to a conservation easement—generating income while ensuring the land’s long-term protection. This approach keeps the land in private ownership and on the tax rolls and can help fund additional land acquisitions. Depending on the details, this option enables the donor to quickly liquidate an asset, eliminate broker’s fees, and in most cases take a charitable deduction for the fair market value of the property, while positively impacting future conservation.
Many landowners wish to retain maximum flexibility during their lifetime and choose to carry out their conservation plans through a bequest or a living trust. Through this approach, a landowner can conserve important lands by donating property to the land trust through their will. A bequest is a provision in the landowner’s will or revocable trust that instructs the estate’s executor to convey land or other assets to the land trust.
Stewarding lands to reach their optimal ecological potential is essential to Winnakee’s long term conservation strategy. Winnkaee is here to help provide landowners with resources to maximize the resiliency of their land, increase biodiversity by restoring rare species habitats, control harmful invasives, and become part of globally important connective land corridors that secure pathways for many species survival. View Landowner Resources.