Conservation easements are legal agreements between a landowner and a non-profit, charitable land conservation organization or public entity. The landowner retains ownership of the property and conveys specified rights to the holder of the easement. Typically the easement is donated; however, there are other financial advantages to the landowner.
Property owners use conservation easements to ensure long term land conservation and preservation of natural, historic, or scenic features. Usually this is done because they feel a strong attachment to their land and desire to be good stewards.
In order for a landowner to realize financial benefits in the form of tax deductions from donating easements, the restriction must be in perpetuity. The permanent easement thus can be considered a charitable contribution on federal and state income tax returns. The value of the contributions is the difference between the highest value of the land before the easement is placed and the property value after the donation. This can enable the easement donor to realize very significant reductions in their state and federal income tax burden over several years.
The benefit to the community at large is that the easement helps to maintain a supply of clean air, water and animal habitat. Also, all citizens can enjoy the beauty of the undeveloped meadows, famland and scenery.
J. F. Brown Real Estate Services has a keen interest in the conservation of the rural character of Rockbridge County and the Shenandoah Valley. Please stop in our office located in Lexington Virginia and we would be happy to discuss with you the merits of conservation easements.