How to Conserve My Land

Conserving Your Land

We understand that your land can be an important part of your lifestyle or family heritage as well as a financial asset. Each landowner values their land in a different way, whether it be for agricultural use, habitat for wildlife, outdoor recreation or simply for solitude. WLCT will explore options with each unique landowner to determine the most appropriate method of preservation. Then, we work with you every step of the way to align your conservation goals with the permanent protection of your resource. There are many benefits for you the landowner to conserve land while also protecting important conservation values for the greater public.

Donating or Selling Land

A gift or sale of land is the most direct way a landowner can ensure their land is managed for conservation purposes in perpetuity. We know your land is an asset and it is often an important financial tool for future family planning. With a donation or sale of land, you can achieve both a personal benefit from the transaction and provide a public benefit by protecting wildlife habitat, working farmland or open space for passive recreation.

WLCT works with you each step of the way to transfer the title to the land trust and realize the potential personal benefits through a tax deduction or in some high priority cases, a fair market value purchase. Donating or selling your land is a great way to contribute to the growth of our nation’s public lands.

Conservation Restriction (CR)

A Conservation Restriction  (CR) is a voluntary, legal agreement entered into by a landowner and a qualified nonprofit or government agency that permanently protects key conservation values and limits future uses of the land. As a landowner you have the right to use your property in a variety of ways and to maximize its value through future planning. A CR is tailored to extinguish some or all of the future development rights, and you have the option to retain other rights while you continue to own the land.

Each CR is unique and is developed in partnership with a land trust. Reserved rights and extinguished rights are clearly reflected in the CR document and remain as an encumbrance on the property forever. A CR is a great way to protect the conservation values of your land while also retaining ownership and potentially accessing other financial benefits including:

–        Reduced property taxes

–        Federal income tax deduction

–        In MA, a potential tax credit up to $75,000

WLCT primarily works on CR projects that are a donation to the organization, but in high-priority areas, it is possible we would consider the purchase of a restriction at the present fair market value.

Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR)

Farmland across America is being lost at a rate of 175 acres per hour and New England’s agricultural heritage is threatened by a continued development boom. The State of Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) has a program to protect working farmland from being lost to development. The Agricultural Preservation Restriction program offers compensation to farmers seeking to protect their working farmland through the purchase of the property’s future development rights.

An APR extinguishes all future development rights in exchange for a fair market value purchase established by an independent appraiser. The reserved rights of the property are focused on a working agricultural operation in perpetuity and the APR program monitors the ongoing farm operation to ensure the land is being utilized in accordance with these rights.

Other Conservation Methods include gifts of land subject to a life estate, testamentary bequests and bargain sales. Landowners can explore with the Land Trust which potential preservation approach best meets their land protection goals.

want to volunteer?

We always need more volunteers! If you are interested in volunteering with the Westport Land Trust, then give us a call at (508) 636-9228 or simply email info@westportlandtrust.org and put “Volunteer” in the subject line.