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Conservation Options

Thank you for your interest in land conservation. Every family is different and so is every piece of land.

Your plan to protect your land should reflect your family’s unique values, desires, and financial situation. That’s why there are so many conservation options for you to choose from, many of which are listed below.

To explore these options with your local land trust, you may find contact information and other helpful details through...

For additional information on conservation tools, read this conservation primer for landowners...

Transfer Ownership of your Land (Fee Simple Transfer)

Transfer all rights, title, and interest in property. This option is beneficial because it:

  • May be by sale or donation
  • Is a relatively simple transaction
  • Releases your responsibilities of stewarding your land
  • Depending upon your financial circumstances and the terms of the deed, may allow you to claim an income tax deduction, secure estate tax benefits, and avoid capital gains taxes if you choose to donate the land.

Voluntary Conservation Agreement (Conservation Easement)

Transfer permanent rights to the property to protect its conservation values through an agreement between you (the landowner) and a land trust or government agency. A conservation easement limits the type and scope of development that can take place on your land so that its natural beauty and function are preserved. This option is beneficial because it:

  • May be done by sale or donation
  • Allows you to retain the title to your property
  • Allows you to continue to use and steward your land
  • Allows you to sell your land or pass it on to your heirs, without worrying about development
  • Is permanent but flexible—it can be tailored to meet your specific needs and protect a wide variety of conservation values on your land including agricultural, forestry, scenic, historic, and/or wildlife habitat.
  • Creates a partnership with the land trust to ensure that all restrictions are followed to protect the land
  • May allow you to claim an income tax deduction and estate tax benefits if you donate the easement

Life Estate, with Conveyance of a Remainder Interest

Conveyance of land in a way that allows you and other named persons (called life tenants) to continue living or using the land during your and their lifetimes. You assume full responsibility for taxes and maintenance during your life, but after your passing, the land trust takes over the full title of the property. This option is beneficial because it:

  • Allows you and other life tenants to enjoy the land for a lifetime
  • May qualify for a charitable gift income tax deduction
  • Can be joined with a conservation easement donated to another organization

Donation of Title or Conservation Easement by Will

You retain title to your land during your lifetime and then transfer it to a willing land trust through your will (this is termed as a “devise” or a “donation by devise”). This option is beneficial because it:

  • Allows you to use your land as is for the remainder of your life
  • May protect your land from being taxed as part of your estate

Donation with Lifetime Income

Donation of your land, stocks, or other assets to a land trust in exchange for a life income agreement (also known as an annuity). This option is most useful for highly appreciated land in which the sale would incur high capital gains tax. This option is beneficial because it:

  • Provides you with a stable source of income
  • May qualify for a charitable gift annuity


In case you may need to sell your land right away, you can often work with a land trust to place a conservation easement on your land before it goes on the market. This option is beneficial because it:

  • Allows you to sell your land in a timely manner
  • Protects your land from development
  • Can help you work with a land trust to identify potential buyers for conserved lands

For more information

Contact CLCC executive director Amy Blaymore Paterson at