Conservation Easements

What is a Conservation Easement?

A Conservation Easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a Land Trust (or government entity) that permanently restricts certain aspects of land use in order to protect the conservation values of the property. Landowners may either donate or sell a Conservation Easement. When a landowner places a Conservation Easement on his or her land, he or she maintains ownership and use of the property and can sell it or pass it on to heirs. The land is subject to certain restrictions agreed upon by the landowner and the Land Trust. For example, a landowner might agree to limit development on his or her property to one residence of a particular size.

Fall foliage on mountain range and pond in summer time
Aspen trees and snowy trees and grass

Future landowners are bound by these restrictions as well, and the Land Trust is responsible for monitoring the property and upholding the terms of the easement. Conservation Easements have become one of the most commonly used land conservation tools in the country.

Protecting land through a donation of a Conservation Easement does truly represent a partnership in perpetuity between the landowner and the Land Trust. It is a partnership premised upon the mutual goal of preserving the conservation values of the property. The time and resources invested in creating a Conservation Easement are rewarded through the permanent preservation and sound stewardship of the land.

Benefits of Conserving Your Land

PRESERVING A LEGACY
Placing a Conservation Easement on your property is a way to ensure that the land you cherish will always be protected!

COLORADO STATE TAX CREDITS
Colorado is one of only a few states that offer a transferable tax credit in exchange for the donation of a Conservation Easement. Because the tax credit is transferable, it can be sold in exchange for cash.

The tax credit is calculated as 90% of the donated value, up to a maximum tax credit of $5,000,000.

FEDERAL TAX DEDUCTION
Conservation Easements are also eligible for a charitable deduction on federal income taxes.
This deduction can be used to offset a landowner’s Adjusted Gross Income for a period up to 15 years.

PROPERTY TAXES
In Colorado, properties that are 80 acres or more and are assessed as “agricultural” at the time of the Conservation Easement will maintain that status even if agricultural operations stop.

ESTATE PLANNING
Extinguishing some or all of the development rights for a property through a Conservation Easement may reduce the amount of estate taxes owed when passing the property to future generations. This can provide a substantial benefit and allow a property to stay within the family.

DISCLAIMER

  • Due to the financial and legal impacts of this process, MALT does not render legal or tax advice. It is highly recommended that landowners consult with their legal, financial and estate planners early in the Conservation Easement process.
  • Landowner(s) are responsible for compliance with IRS IRC 170, IRS Notice 2004-41, accompanying Treasury Department regulations and other Federal and State laws and rules.
  • MALT does not knowingly participate in projects where MALT has significant concerns about the tax credits/deduction. Additionally, MALT makes no guarantee as to the qualifications or value of the Conservation Easement for tax purposes.
Interesting in Conserving Your Land?

For more information, download Landowner Guide to Conserving Land or Contact MALT at (303) 679-0950.

Please note the information above is no substitute for obtaining competent legal and accounting advice from consultants experienced with Conservation Easements, accounting and tax law.