What is a Conservation Easement?
A conservation easement is an agreement between a willing landowner and a qualified organization to restrict permanently the type and amount of development that takes place on his or her property. The conservation easement prohibits development that would be harmful to the public benefits the easement seeks to protect, for example wildlife habitat, scenic views or important agricultural and ranching lands.
The landowner continues to own the property; he or she may sell it, live on it, use it, or leave it to heirs, but the agreed-upon restrictions remain with the land forever. Granting a conservation easement does not mean that the landowner must grant public access to his or her property.
Conservation easements can result in income tax benefits and estate tax benefits, if the land qualifies under IRS criteria. While the tax benefits are helpful, many people have found the greatest satisfaction in working with the Teton Regional Land Trust is the assurance that the land they cherish will always be protected.
The Teton Regional Land Trust cannot warrant that a tax benefit will arise from donation of a conservation easement, and does not provide an estimate of potential tax benefits. Trained, professional appraisers perform calculations of donation value. Landowners must consult with their legal and financial advisors.
Who can accept a conservation easement?
Land trusts or governmental entities. A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements. The Teton Regional Land Trust is a non-profit, tax-exempt corporation recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as an appropriate organization to received and act as steward for conservation easements. The Teton Regional Land Trust is also qualified to assess the conservation features of a property.