What is a Conservation Easement?

Jeff Reynolds
Jeff Reynolds
Published on August 2, 2017
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“Conservation Easements” – the words sound daunting and difficult-to-understand, but they do just what the words imply – conserve land.  Conservation easements have many purposes including creating open spaces, providing wildlife sanctuary, and allowing for scenic view sheds.  It’s a binding agreement between a landowner and land trust/government agency to protect land and inhibit any development.

This can ensure that wildlife habitats, historical land/structures, and scenic vistas remain intact.  All conservation easement agreements are different because they have different objectives.  Some conservation easements are set out to maintain open land, others to protect an endangered species, and some to defend water quality.  The agreement is literally tailored to the owner who chooses to enter into the agreement.  The agreement is then binding to all future owners for the lifetime of the land or “in perpetuity”.

What It Does Not Do

A conservation easement is not an agreement to relinquish your rights to the land.  At least, not all your rights.  With land ownership, you are typically entitled to lease, sell, develop, etc.  Owners can continue to reside on the property, but they certain rights such as subdividing or developing.  The development rights are entrusted to a government organization.  In Colorado that organization is Colorado Open Lands.

Another thing it does not do is allow the public to enter your land.  Not unless you specify this in your agreement.

How Does It Benefit Me? 

Why should you consider buying or donating to a conservation easement?  If you love open space and natural views, you can help keep more land undeveloped and keep nature pristine. The agreement is attractive to many because it ensures the land will be conserved for years to come.  If that is not reason enough, then there are tax credits and deductions to entice you!

Federal Tax Deductions

Under Colorado law you are entitled to tax credits when you donate money.  The federal tax deduction allows you to deduct a flat-rate amount from your overall taxable income.

Tax Credits

This is a charitable amount of money that can be deducted for a period of several years for reducing your income tax based off the easement donation.  IRS max credit allowances here.

Colorado State Tax Credits

Donors are allowed up to 20 years to use these credits against your Colorado state taxes.  Max amount of credit allowed for your donation: 75% of the first $100K and 50% above that with a cap of $1.5 million.

Intangible Benefits

Above all, you are helping preserve land for future generations.  Supporting or initiating a conservation easement allows wildlife to remain protected and views to stay intact.  Historical landmarks and structures are also often protected this way.  Many people do not know this, but many national and local state parks are protected under conservation easements.

Where You Can Find One of Your Own:

If you want to find eligible land in Colorado, you’ll want to take advantage of one of the most beautiful easements that you’ll come across!

 

If you have any questions or would like to see this beauty in person, please contact me, Jeff Reynolds, at (970) 403-4008 | RE/MAX Pinnacle.  I am located in Durango and would love to help find you a deal on a Colorado property you’ll love!

Sources:

http://coloradoopenlands.org/considering_easement/

https://www.sirote.com/blog/conservation-easement/conservation-easements-an-effective-land-preservation-tool

https://www.nature.org/about-us/private-lands-conservation/conservation-easements/all-about-conservation-easements.xml

 

 

 

 

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What is a Conservation Easement?
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