What Are The Costs Associated with Donating An Easement?
When donating an easement, there are some expenses that the landowner should be prepared to pay. One of these expenses is the cost of a professional appraisal if an income tax deduction or estate tax reduction is going to be claimed for the value of the easement. The other primary expense is a Land Conservation & Easement Stewardship Donation that is usually requested by The Catskill Center. Each time The Catskill Center helps a landowner achieve conservation goals using an easement, we are committing substantial staff time and resources to prepare the easement document and associated materials. More importantly, The Catskill Center is taking on a legal obligation to monitor and enforce each easement. Assuming this responsibility is a serious commitment. The Land Conservation & Easement Stewardship Donation is a onetime contribution used to cover the costs of preparing easements, administering our land conservation program, and long-term easement defense. This financial support offers security that the easement will remain a lasting testament to the donor’s love of their land. The recommended amount of each donation depends on the size and location of the property, complexity of the easement, and the easement donor’s giving ability.
THE CATSKILL CENTER’S LAND CONSERVATION PROGRAM
A conservation easement is a powerful land use planning tool that is used widely across the country to protect important landscape features such as wildlife habitat and sensitive ecosystems, wetlands and riparian areas, scenic areas such as meadows and ridgelines, agricultural land, working forests, and historic sites. An easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified non-profit land trust or a unit of government, that limits the use of the owner’s land in order to protect the conservation values of the property. Generally the easement permanently prohibits or restricts development and other land uses that could adversely affect those important open space attributes. The landowner retains ownership of the property, and can continue to engage in traditional uses of the Conservation easements property that do not conflict with the agreed upon conservation goals. help keep people Each conservation easement is unique, tailored to the specific characteristics of the property. The landowner and The Catskill Center will work closely together to discuss various options to determine how to best achieve agreed upon conservation goals. Many easements have more than one goal. Most traditional uses of the land and certain limited development rights can be retained so long as the conservation goals are being met. A conservation easement is recorded as a legal document in the County registry. Financial incentives for donating an easement may include state and federal income tax charitable deductions for the appraised value of the development rights and other rights given up, as determined by an independent professional appraisal. Easements can also lower or eliminate estate taxes, helping landowners successfully pass land along to their heirs. They may result in a real property tax reduction, but that decision is made by each local assessor. When The Catskill Center or any other land trust accepts and holds a conservation easement, it takes on the responsibility of monitoring and enforcing the terms of the easement.
Water color by Josephine Schairer, 1893
What Else Do I Need To Know?
♦ Conservation easements are authorized by state and
federal law, and do not require local government approval. Easements are usually permanent, whereas local ordinances, land use restrictions, and various natural resources permit regulations can change.
connected to the land.
♦ Easements do not prevent you from selling your land
or passing it on to your children, however the easement will continue to be binding on all future landowners if it is granted in perpetuity.
♦ The Catskill Center can help a landowner through the
process of land conservation planning and donating an easement, however landowners are responsible for obtaining their own professional legal and tax advice.
♦ Most easements that The Catskill Center accepts are
donated, however in certain circumstances we may be able to help landowners with purchase of development rights projects by referring them to other organizations or by raising funds through outside sources.
Drawing by Flavia Bacarella
Open space is critically important to America and is disappearing at an alarming rate. The majority of America’s open spaces are privately owned, meaning to save them we must provide the right incentives for landowners to consider conservation over development. Conservation easements are a legal means to provide this incentive and … are an important tool to protect natural ecosystems while keeping land in private hands, creating a win-win situation for all stakeholders involved.
Water color by Josephine Schairer, 1893
THE CATSKILL CENTER
Founded in 1969, The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Inc. is a non-profit, member-supported organization working to protect the cultural, natural, and scenic resources of the Catskill Mountain region of New York State, while at the same time fostering appropriate and sustainable economic development, community planning, education, and the arts. The Catskill Center serves a broad and diverse region encompassing over 6,000 square miles of mountains, forests, rivers, farmland and communities in seven counties. Our mission is carried out under our four main program areas: Land Conservation & Natural Resources; Community Planning; Environmental and Regional Education; and Arts & Culture. The Catskill Center strives to help communities grow in ways that complement the qualities that have made the Catskills unique, and to build a strong constituency for protection of the irreplaceable resources of the Catskills.
Conservation easements are one of the most powerful and lasting ways you can leave a land conservation legacy for future generations!
- from “The Value of Conservation Easements” World Resources Institute
“The reason I want to give this easement to The Catskill Center is to preserve permanently for public enjoyment the peak of Roundtop Mountain, the views from which are spectacular. The grant of the easement secures permanent public access to, and preservation of, the mountain top.” - David Sive, Roxbury, easement donor, 1990 “I feel very strongly about my land, and very strongly about the environment. I think that even though there are still lots of farms here in the Catskills, the creep of population is such that we must preserve what is still preservable - and the price of land here still makes that possible. I think we need to wake up while we still have a chance.” - Elaine Fox, Delhi/Bovina, easement donor 1993 “My family has been coming here for 50 years now, and we’re happy to see the land protected forever.” - Meyer Kukle, Platte Clove, easement donor 1996 “We are thrilled that this beautiful and important corner of the Catskills will always remain a refuge for flora, fauna, and rambling homo sapiens.....long live swamps and rock ledges!” - Lu and Caroline Chmelar, Palenville, easement donors 2000 “We are so grateful to the animals and the Catskill Mountains for giving us so much. We can’t imagine a place that we’d rather be. We want to make other folks realize that there is a way of preserving what we have here.” - Robert and Valerie Greenberg, Preston Hollow, easement donors 2001
The Catskill Center PO Box 504; Rt. 28 Arkville, NY 12406
Phone: (845)586-2611 Fax: (845)586-3044 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by C. Olney
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THE CATSKILL CENTER
FOR CONSERVATION & DEVELOPMENT