Protect Your Land

Land donated to a land trust or placed under a conservation easement is among the most meaningful legacies a person can leave to future generations. Communities across the country are enjoying nature preserves, recreation areas, and other open space today because of the foresight and generosity of landowners who have gifted land for public benefit.

Land can be protected in more than one way. Regardless of how you choose to leave a legacy, we ensure that your wishes for the land are carried out in perpetuity.

Inquire About Protecting Your Land

A conservation easement is a voluntary contract between a landowner and a land trust, government agency or another qualified organization in which the owner places permanent restrictions on the future uses of some or all of their property to protect scenic, wildlife, or agricultural resources (conservation values). The restrictions usually limit the number of future home sites but can, and often do, limit other uses as well.

Conservation easements are specifically tailored to meet the needs of each landowner; few conservation easements look alike because few properties are the same, and few landowners want exactly the same provisions. The easement is donated by the landowner to the land trust, which then has the authority and obligation to enforce the terms of the easement in perpetuity The landowner still owns the property and can use it, sell it, or leave it to heirs, but the restrictions of the easement stay with the land forever.

The easement document itself is a legal instrument signed and recorded in the county of record. Since the conservation easement continues on the land forever, the restrictions remain on the property even after the landowner dies or sells the property.

Protect your special place forever by filling out the Land Preservation Information Form online or downloading and printing out the PDF version.

  1. Complete the Land Preservation Information Form (1-2 weeks)
  2. Site visit within 30 days of receiving completed form
    1. View property
    2. Discuss conservation goals
    3. Discuss stewardship funding
    4. Discuss landowner goals and WVLT’s mission
    5. Stewardship funding overview
  3. Title Report and subordination of interest in property (1-3 months)
  4. Survey (1-3 months)
  5. Baseline document report (30 days)
  6. Appraisal (2-4 weeks)
  7. Drafting of the easement (30-60 days)
  8. Easement approval process (30-60 day)
  9. Easement closing (30 days from approval)
  10. Recording of easement (30 days from closing)
  11. Completion of land preservation

In addition to health and food benefits, conserving land increases property values near greenbelts, saves tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development, and reduces the need for expensive water filtration facilities. Study after study has demonstrated the tremendous economic benefits of land conservation.

Learn more about the economic and tax benefits of saving land! [ Download PDF ]

There are also significant tax benefits available to donors of land or conservation easements. Below is a summary of some of these benefits along with examples of how they work.

Federal Tax Benefits
There are two main kinds of federal tax benefits available to conservation donors: federal income tax benefits and federal estate tax benefits.

Federal Income Tax Benefits

Donors of land and conservation easements may claim an income tax deduction under RS170 of the Internal Revenue Code. The exact amount of tax savings depends on several factors:
How long the donor has owned the property. Benefits are generally greater if owned for more than one year.

  • How the donor has used the property i.e. residence, investment or agricultural.
  • The income of the donor; the higher ones income the more one will save on taxes.
  • The value of the donated property; the more valuable the property, the bigger the deduction.

Federal Estate Tax Benefits
A donor may also save substantially on estate taxes if he or she donates a conservation easement. Under § 2031(c) of the Code, up to $500,000 may be excluded from one’s taxable estate if he or she had donated a qualifying easement. As with the income tax benefits, the larger the value of the donated easement, the bigger the deduction.

Conserving land and preserving a family legacy

Monroe County Farm

Monroe County, W.Va. — In 2014, a landowner in Monroe County protected a 600-acre family farm under conservation easements held by the West Virginia Land Trust. The property, which has been owned by the family since the late 1700s, was vulnerable to development due to its location along a scenic highway. The West Virginia Land Trust and members of the family worked together to develop easements that reflected a common vision to protect not only scenic and agricultural values, but also numerous freshwater springs and high quality waters flowing through the property– including nearly two miles of Second Creek, a renowned trout stream.

The easements ensure that a family legacy is preserved and that the scenic and natural qualities of this working landscape are passed along to future generations.

Elizabeth Zimmermann’s legacy is an 84-acre nature preserve in Monongalia County. The Elizabeth’s Woods preserve was deeded to the WVLT in 1995 and is managed the property under guidelines outlined in the deed which require keeping the property in its natural condition while accommodating hiking and nature study.

The 62-acre Poppy Bean Farm in Hardy County was donated and given the name “Poppy Bean Preserve,” named in honor of the land donor’s grandfather. The property will be conserved by WVLT as a community resource. The donor’s intentions for the property are for it to be a nature preserve and for it to help the community.

If you are considering protecting — or selling or developing — your farm, forest, watershed or other holding in West Virginia, we’d like to talk to you about whether a conservation easement is right for you.

Please call (304) 346-7788 or email for a no-obligation appointment.

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