Conservation Options

Wood Creek Pond, Norfolk (Alden Warner).

Thank you for your interest in land conservation and the community-based movement to protect Connecticut's farms, forests and other special places. Depending on your specific needs and interests, there are a variety of conservation techniques available to help you conserve your land. To explore these options with your local land trust, find contact information and other helpful details on the Find a Land Trust page. For additional information on conservation tools, please contact CLCC or see "Why Conserve Your Land?" on the national Land Trust Alliance website.

Conservation Easements

One of the most common tools for conserving private land, a “conservation easement” (or “conservation restriction”) is a legal document that guides future land uses as ownership changes.  The easement, an agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency, limits the type and scope of development that can take place in order to permanently protect its natural resource values.  Under a conservation easement, landowners retain title to their property; they may continue to use it and are also able to sell it or pass it on to heirs.  

Resale of Land

If you need to sell your land but want to ensure that it’s not spoiled by development, a land trust can help.  Prior to the sale, you may be able to work with your local land trust to place a conservation easement on the land before it goes on the market.  Some land trusts might also be able to identify potential buyers for conserved lands.

Donation of Land for Conservation

By donating land for conservation, you can make a lasting impact on the future of critical open space, ensuring the protection wildlife habitat and potential recreation areas.  If you choose to donate your land, your local land trust can work with you to develop the best arrangement.  The land trust might retain ownership of the property as a permanent preserve or transfer the property to a suitable owner, such as a government agency.  In some cases, the land is sold to a private owner, subject to a conservation easement held by the land trust.  (Proceeds from such sales could fund the land trust’s long-term management of the conservation easement and/or help it to protect even more land.)  The full market value of land donated to a nonprofit land trust is tax deductible as a charitable gift.

Bargain Sale

In a bargain sale, land is conveyed at less than its fair market value, increasing the chance that a land trust or government agency can purchase it.  By negotiating a mutually agreeable price, the transfer is more affordable for the land trust and provides several benefits to you: it provides cash, avoids some capital gains tax, and entitles you to a charitable income tax deduction based on the difference between the land’s fair market value and its sale price.

Option to Purchase

If a land trust does not have the funds on hand for immediate purchase, a landowner might choose to give or sell the option to buy the property.  Both parties agree to a sale price and the potential buyer has a specified amount of time in which to determine whether or not to exercise the option.  Because the land cannot be sold to others during the option period, the land trust or government agency has more time to raise sufficient purchase funds.

Right of First Refusal

If you have decided you want to conserve your land but you’re not ready to transfer it, you can plan with a land trust to grant them the right of first refusal.  This gives the land trust the first opportunity to purchase the property, matching any bona fide offer you receive, when you are ready to sell.

Donation with a Lifetime Income

If you have land you would like to protect by donating it to a land trust, but you need to receive income during your lifetime, consider a charitable gift annuity or a charitable remainder unitrust. Charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder unitrusts are most useful for highly appreciated land, the sale of which would incur high capital gains tax.