Conservation Options

Jim and Mary Lou King sold both a conservation easement and a fee-simple property to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust.

Each decision to conserve a property is a personal one. Your vision for the land and its conservation values are at the core of that decision. There are many different means of conserving your land. The below list will give you an introduction to the options, but for more information, please see Conservation Options: A Landowner’s Guide (downloadable PDF), a publication of the Land Trust Alliance.

WHEN YOU WANT TO CONTINUE TO OWN YOUR LAND

As the private landowner, there are several options which allow you to protect the conservation values of your land.

Conservation Easement – This is a voluntary, legal agreement between a property owner and the Southeast Alaska Land Trust that restricts the uses of the property to ensure that its natural, recreational, open space, or historic values remain in place.

Conservation easements are the most widely used land protection tool available to landowners. Each easement is tailored to a specific property and is designed to meet the specific needs and conservation interests of the landowner. Use conditions or restrictions agreed to within a conservation easement are permanent – remaining in effect even if the title changes hands. 

Landowners may donate or sell a conservation easement to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. The following are donation options:

  • Outright Donation – By donating an easement, the landowner may receive federal income and property tax benefits.
  • Donation by Will (Bequest) – A landowner bequeaths a conservation easement to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust in their will. This may reduce inheritance taxes.

If you wish to sell a conservation easement, the Southeast Alaska Land Trust will consider purchasing it at fair market value, as determined by a qualified appraiser or at bargain sale rate if you wish to receive both compensation and tax benefits.

Mutual Covenants – This is an agreement between neighboring landowners who wish to collectively protect the conservation values of their properties in a self-enforcing and non-perpetual manner. The Southeast Alaska Land Trust would not be involved if this option were pursued.

 
WHEN YOU NO LONGER WISH TO OWN THE LAND

Donate your land – There are a number of scenarios that can make land ownership unappealing. You might own land that has significant conservation value, but you do not have heirs who will protect it. You might own highly appreciated property, the sale of which would result in large capital gains taxes. You might own property that you no longer use. You may want to reduce your property taxes or be relieved of the responsibilities of managing and caring for land.

  • Outright Donation – This is a relatively simple transaction that transfers fee title land ownership to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. You may receive federal income tax benefits.
  • Donation with Reserved Life Estate – This agreement allows a landowner to donate their property to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust during their lifetime while reserving the right to live on and use the property until their death. You may receive federal income and local property tax benefits.
  • Donation by Will (Bequest) – This agreement allows a landowner to own and use their land until their death. At that time, the ownership rights are transferred to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. It is slightly different from a reserved life estate because the transfer of ownership does not occur during the landowner’s lifetime. Removing the value of your property from your estate could significantly reduce your estate taxes.

Sell your land – The Southeast Alaska Land Trust may be willing to purchase conservation land. The methods listed below describe the various ways a landowner can sell property to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust. All of the options are available for the purchase of a conservation easement as well.

  • Fair Market Value Sale – Generally, the Southeast Alaska Land Trust reserves this method for parcels that have unique or rare conservation values or are under imminent threat. In such cases, the fair market value is determined by a qualified appraisal.
  • Bargain Sale – The landowner sells their property to the Southeast Alaska Land Trust at a price below fair market value. The difference between market value and sale price may be treated as a tax-deductible, charitable donation.

Whether you need help preserving land that you cherish beyond your lifetime, desire to realize tax benefits through charitable giving, or simply wish to make a contribution to support our work, we can help you achieve your specific plans while protecting important natural and cultural lands. If you would like to know more about these options, please contact us at info@setrust.net or (907) 586-3100.

*This information is intended as a general guide to planned giving and voluntary protection of private lands in Southeast Alaska. It is not meant as a substitute for legal or tax advice. Individuals wishing to make a donation should consult advisers such as their attorneys, tax accountant, or other professionals. Local and state government officials may also be able to provide useful advice.