How can you protect your land?
Your property is important to you and valuable to those around you for its scenic views, open spaces, vital waterways and/or history as a working farm legacy. If your land meets certain criteria, the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy (GVC), a designated land trust since 1989, can help you protect and preserve your land through a voluntary legal document called a Deed of Conservation Easement.
What is a Conservation Easement?
Landowners can choose to participate in a legal agreement (conservation easement) that preserves land for future generations by restricting or conditioning certain uses of the land to protect its agricultural or natural features. Conservation easements are always voluntary.
Each conservation easement is unique and created with your specific needs in mind. These conditions are then attached to the property deed. The land under a conservation easement remains in private ownership. You still own the land and public access (e.g. trails) is not required.
Easements potentially offer landowners financial benefits while preserving land and protecting the Gunpowder watershed. Potential financial benefits include:
- Reduced estate or inheritance taxes
- State and federal income tax deductions for the appraised value of the easement.
Depending on the conservation easement program chosen, an easement can either be donated or purchased. A government agency or non-profit land trust (or sometimes both) agree to hold the easement. Terms of easements are customized to meet various objectives, with the overarching goal of land preservation. We say a conservation easement “runs with the land”, meaning it applies to all future owners of your property.
What steps are involved in the Easement Process?
- Fill out GVC’s online Land Preservation interest form. Please include as much detail as possible to help us best understand your property’s unique character.
- A GVC Land Preservation representative will contact you to discuss the most appropriate option(s) for preserving your property and, if interested, to arrange a site visit.
- During the site visit, the GVC Land Preservation representative will assess the property’s potential to enhance water quality of local streams, provide wildlife habitat, and/or preserve historic structures. Additionally, the potential to reduce the future development capacity of the property will be evaluated.
- GVC will present you with the site visit results to decide whether you want to proceed with a donated easement or purchased easement. Please make sure to consult with your legal and/or tax advisors concerning the benefits of placing your land in a conservation easement.