The Rincon Institute assists private landowners with conservation of natural resources, open spaces, wildlife habitat and scenic values. Open space in the Rincon, Vail, and Tanque Verde valleys is what brings many of us to this side of town to live, recreate, visit, and enjoy.
These open spaces provide important wildlife habitat, scenic values, contribute to clean water and air, and offer an ability to renew and reconnect with our environment. As these areas change and grow, it is important that we work together to maintain a quality of life that is treasured in this area. Conservation of privately owned landscapes is one of the many ways you can help preserve these open spaces.
Landowners who have property with significant ecological values can donate a conservation easement to the Rincon Institute and enjoy continued ownership of the land, while ensuring protection of its valuable natural resources for generations to come. Conservation easements are a tool used throughout the nation to protect forestlands, rangelands, wetlands, prairies and more. By working with a nonprofit land trust like the Rincon Institute, you can decide the best conservation tool to use to protect your land.
You can select from a number of tools, including the outright donation of your property, the donation or sale of a conservation easement that permanently restricts development, the bargain sale of your proerty, and several other variations. You should always have legal advice before embarking on such a decision. The following information specific to conservation easements is from the Land Trust Alliance, www.lta.org.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows you to continue to own and use your land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs.
When you donate a conservation easement to a land trust, you give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional structures, while retaining the right to grow crops. Future owners also will be bound by the easement's terms. The land trust is responsible for making sure the easement's terms are followed.
Conservation easements offer great flexibility. An easement on property containing rare wildlife habitat might prohibit any development, for example, while one on a farm might allow continued farming and the building of additional agricultural structures. An easement may apply to just a portion of the property, and need not require public access.
A landowner sometimes sells a conservation easement, but usually easements propresources and meets other federal tax code requirements it can qualify as a taxdeductible charitable donation.
The amount of the donation is the difference between the land's value with the easement and its value without the easement. Placing an easement on your property may or may not result in property tax savings.
Perhaps most important, a conservation easement can be essential for passing land on to the next generation. By removing the land's development potential, the easement lowers its market value, which in turn lowers estate tax. Whether the easement is donated during life or by will, it can make a critical difference in the heirs' ability to keep the land intact.
Rincon Institute currently manages two conservation easements and is negotiating a third. If you would like to learn more about conservation options for your property or stewardship and environmental education opportunities throughout the Rincon Valley area, please contact us at 647-7388 or
are donated. If the donation benefits the public by permanently protecting important conservation