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Conservation Options

The Rancocas Conservancy works with landowners to design land preservation deals that are a win-win for all. There are many variations of land protection that will affect the landowner's continuing use and benefit. These include a conservation easement, fee acquisition, reserve life estate or remainder interest, and bequest. Each is briefly described below. For more detailed information, please call us at (609) 859-8860 ext. 17 or email us at rancocas@bigfoot.com.

These land preservation techniques can be accomplished through a donation, bargain sale or sale for full value. A bargain sale is a sale at less than the appraised fair market value; donation is an outright gift for no financial remuneration. The Internal Revenue Service allows an income tax deduction for qualified conservation donations of either a part or the entire value of a property. The Rancocas Conservancy strongly urges landowners to consult with their personal tax advisors regarding eligible deductions.

 
Conservation Easement

A landowner may donate or sell a conservation easement on his/her property. A conservation easement is a legal restriction that prohibits subdivision and development on a property. It also restricts activities on the property that would have a negative effect on the natural characteristics of the property. These restrictions are usually tailored to each specific property and landowner. Restrictions may include limits on cutting trees and native plant species, limits on soil disturbance, protective measures for stream corridors, and limits on the use of motorized vehicles including ATVs.

A conservation easement may include provisions for agricultural and recreational uses, and continuing single residential use by the property owner. A conservation easement may substantially reduce the value of the property for inheritance tax purposes, enabling the land to remain in the family rather than be sold to pay the estate taxes. The land remains in private ownership and the Rancocas Conservancy is responsible for monitoring and defending the restrictions with the property owners, current and future.

 
Fee Simple Acquisition
A fee simple acquisition by Rancocas Conservancy is the sale or gift of the property by deed to our organization. Rancocas Conservancy becomes the owner of the land, which is restricted as permanent open space. In some cases, the land may be transferred to a public agency as an addition to parkland. This can provide tax benefits and cash value to the landowner.
 
Reserved Life Estate or Remainder Interest
With a reserved life estate or remainder interest the land is transferred to Rancocas Conservancy immediately and the owner reserves the use of the property for his or her lifetime. This right may be designed to benefit family generations. This allows the landowner to receive an income tax benefit during his or her lifetime, and removes the value of the property from the estate.
 
Bequest
With a bequest, the landowner conveys the property to Rancocas Conservancy at the time of his or her death through a will. This removes the value of the property from the estate for inheritance tax purposes. The addition of a conservation easement ensures that the property will be permanently protected.
 
Financial Benefits of Land Preservation

Land preservation benefits the landowner as well as his/her surrounding communities. For every single family home built, municipalities in our region assess $4,000, $10,000, and sometimes more in property taxes. However, the cost to provide utilities, roadways, police and firefighter services, education, and all of the amenities that we expect far exceeds the increase in tax revenue. Over-development is a financial drain on the municipalities of our region. With better planning for land preservation and focused development, municipalities might avoid sprawl, preserve the character of their town center, provide recreation space for their residents and protect the water supply and air quality for their community.

Landowners who preserve their lands may also derive a financial benefit. The landowner may be eligible to receive tax benefits by being able to deduct the value of a donation of land, or a donation of the development rights on the land, from his or her taxes for up to six years. A landowner who restricts development on his or her property by placing a conservation easement on the property may also reduce annual property taxes. Rancocas Conservancy strongly urges landowners to consult with their personal tax advisors regarding eligible deductions.

 

 

 

Rancocas Conservancy | PO Box 2188 | Vincentown, NJ 08088 | 609.859.8860 ext. 17 | rancocas@bigfoot.com