Steps in donating a conservation easement
- Learn about the legal document called a “conservation easement” and ask questions.
- Identify the conservation organization that best fits your needs and desires. Be sure the organization’s mission and easement acceptance criteria fit your own vision for the future uses of the property. The Farm & Natural Lands Trust of York County can provide possible Federal tax benefits to the land owner(s) while the York County Agricultural Land Preservation Board will purchase your development rights. The organization you select will prepare the easement document for you and will assume the responsibility of monitoring the land use forever.
- Work with the conservation organization to draft the easement document. Of course, you will want your lawyer to give careful review of this document as well. Be prepared for several drafts over the next few months—this is a very important document and it is well worth the time to get it right.
- Help the conservation organization prepare the baseline documentation (maps, photos, history of the property, etc.). This is essential for future monitoring and must depict the condition of the property at the time the easement is granted.
- Once everyone is satisfied with the accuracy of the easement document, the landowner(s) will sign the conservation easement; an authorized officer of the conservation organization will also sign the easement before it is recorded in the Recorder of Deeds’ office in the courthouse.
- Make a cash contribution (when applicable) to the conservation organization’s land stewardship endowment fund to ensure financial viability for future inspections of your property.
- Have your appraiser complete a final appraisal, suitable as justification for the tax deductions you intend to claim.
- Work with your conservation organization to publicize the notable accomplishment of permanently protecting your beautiful property. Often, the presence of a preserved property will stimulate your neighbors to seriously consider this option for their property.
- Take pride in knowing you have given a legacy of perpetual beauty to be enjoyed forever by your children, grandchildren and your community