Deciding to preserve your land is a personal decision. It involves your vision for the future of the land, your financial needs and tax circumstances, and the land’s resources and value. Ridge and Valley Conservancy (RVC) offers several options for permanently protecting open space and farmland, including outright purchase, donation, conservation easements, and farmland preservation easements. (Glossary of Conservation Terms)
Sale or Your Land
RVC’s preferred method of protecting land is to purchase it outright. Purchase offers are made on the basis of appraisals that establish the fair market value of the land. Depending on the landowner’s financial situation it is sometimes advantageous to sell the land at less than its market value to tax advantage of federal tax incentives associated with making a “bargain sale” to a qualified non-profit such as RVC.
Donating your Land
RVC also accepts land donations. Landowners who donate their land to a land trust for conservation create the most lasting legacy of all. Some of the most precious lands in the nation originated from generous landowners who firmly believed that their land should be preserved in perpetuity for conservation, recreation, and/or scenic values. Selling or donating land releases you from the responsibility of managing the land and can provide substantial income tax deductions and estate tax benefits, while avoiding any capital gains taxes that would have resulted from selling the property. Ridge and Valley Conservancy is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 organization, and, as such, your donation qualifies for tax savings benefits. Depending on the desire of the owner and the type of property involved, donated land may be used as a nature preserve by the land trust, resold with a conservation easement on it, or resold to provide maximum funds for other land protection efforts. A landowner may also preserve their land by donating property through a will or life estate.
Placing a Conservation Easement on Your Land
This is an approach used when landowners want their land preserved, but want to retain ownership. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a private landowner and RVC that permanently restricts harmful uses and development of the property. Easements can be flexible and tailored to meet landowner's needs, including the continuation of agriculture, some types of forestry, recreation, and other uses on the land. The easement generally prohibits future subdivision of the property, but limited subdivision can be accommodated when conditions lend themselves to it. Benefits to the landowner of a conservation easement include the satisfaction of preserving the land, income, continued use, and potential tax benefits. The landowner retains the right to sell, lease, or transfer the property. A conservation easement runs with the land; that is, the original owner and all subsequent owners are bound by its restrictions. Some form of public access is required to satisfy the requirements of funding agencies. Typically this is accomplished by establishing a trail on the property.
Placing a Farmland Preservation Easement on Your Land
RVC also obtains farmland preservation easements, which also prevent future development of the land, but do not require any type of public access. With farmland preservation landowners can erect as many agricultural buildings as permitted by local ordinance. Farmland preservation easements require that you have at least 25 acres of land in crop production or that 50% of the land produces crops.
We hope that you share the dream of protecting your land to make it a special part of the landscape of the Appalachian Ridge and Valley Region of New Jersey. If you would like more information on protecting your land, please use the following link to request more information or discuss your personal situation.