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02-174-CLC News Fall 2002 - Columbia Land Conservancy

02-174-CLC News Fall 2002 - Columbia Land Conservancy


Land Protection with Conservation Easements 6 Tom Crowell Fall 2002 Mai Protects Additional Agricultural Land and Wetland System The property’s open fields and wetlands will now be protected from incompatible development. In addition, they help to buffer neighboring lands that contain three New York State designated wetlands—one of which has been used by Great Blue Herons as a nesting area. Two potential building envelopes were selected, one around the existing carriage house and the other in the corner of a field, away from wetlands. CLC’s Tradeland Program Benefits Donors, Protects Additional Land • Generally speaking, tradelands are properties that are donated to the Conservancy to further its conservation work. These properties may or may not have significant conservation characteristics. • Properties as small as 10 acres, as well as sites including more than 100 acres, have generously been donated to the CONSERVANCY NEWS Vincent Mai is yet another example of how people can leave a conservation legacy. Mr. Mai has now protected a total of 1,096 acres of farmland in Kinderhook and Ghent. His most recent conservation easement covers 116 acres on Mile Hill Road (County Route 21) and adds to 980 acres he already protected at his Kinderhook Farm. The generosity of those who have donated land to CLC for resale has allowed us to protect hundreds of acres of open space, forestlands, and critical wildlife habitat. A total of 1,096 acres of farmland in Kinderhook and Ghent has now been protected by Vincent Mai. Tom Crowell “Columbia County’s rural landscapes and working farmland are important to me,” reflected Mr. Mai. “CLC helped me to balance development and open space. We located future development on the property in a way that would minimize its impact on the wetlands and maximize the protection of the pastoral views and wetlands that define the character of Mile Hill Road.” ❧ The extraordinary success of the Columbia Land Conservancy is, in part, directly linked to the generosity of the individuals who have donated land for resale as part of our Tradeland Program. The Conservancy accepts donations of a wide variety of property and other appreciated assets to enhance its conservation efforts throughout the county. Here’s how: Conservancy. CLC can also accept houses and appreciated assets (e.g., stocks, art, furniture, antique cars, etc.). • For property donations, the Conservancy staff and board of trustees evaluate the property’s natural resources and, if deemed to be of long-term conservation importance, protect the property with a conservation easement when selling it to a conservation buyer. • All proceeds from the sale are applied to our work throughout the county, thereby contributing to the protection of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of acres of additional land. • Such donations are often recognized by the I.R.S. as charitable gifts and the appraised value of the gift may be applied towards the donor’s federal and state income taxes. Land donations also have been used as an integral part of family estate planning. In addition, landowners benefit from the knowledge that their gift will leverage the protection of land that otherwise might not have been protected. If you would like to help protect the rural character of Columbia County through the donation of a tradeland property, or to find out more about the Tradeland Program, contact one of CLC’s project managers (Tony, Renee, and Tom) at (518) 392-5252. ❧

CONSERVANCY NEWS Fall 2002 What is a Conservation Easement? Aconservation easement is a legal agreement, written in the form of a deed, which allows landowners to permanently protect their land. Through the conservation easement, a landowner donates the majority—or entirety—of the property’s development rights to a qualified nonprofit land trust or governmental entity. There are six important points to understand about CLC’s conservation easements: 1) They do not involve a transfer of title. The property is still owned by the easement donor. The landowner can sell, lease, and mortgage land protected by a conservation easement. The landowner can still farm or conduct conservation forestry on the land, and is not in any way required to allow public access. 2) They often entitle landowners to significant state and federal income tax deductions. A landowner may be able to deduct 30%–50% of their adjusted gross income for six years, beginning the year the easement is donated, against the value of the conservation easement. However, if a landowner protects only a portion of the property, the deduction may be substantially reduced, due to private enhancement issues. (The landowner may wish to discuss this with his/her financial advisor.) 3) They do not prohibit all development. A limited number of residential buildings, including their supporting structures (e.g., recreational buildings, guest houses, tennis courts, agricultural structures, garages, storage sheds, swimming pools, etc.) may be allowed. Future development is located to minimize any negative impact on the land resources being protected. It should be noted that the more residential buildings retained under the terms of the easement, the smaller the landowner’s tax deduction likely will be. 4) The property stays on the tax rolls. While a conservation easement does not necessarily lower property taxes in Columbia County, it does not prohibit the landowner from placing the land under the Agricultural or Forestry “current use” programs and receiving a property tax reduction. 5) They are tailored to meet each landowner’s individual vision for his/her land. The landowner works closely with the Conservancy to develop an easement that meets the landowner’s goals for land protection and future development. Public access is not required. However, some landowners elect to establish a public trail as part of their conservation easement. This generally increases their income tax deduction. 6) The Conservancy staff and Board will maintain complete confidentiality of all easement negotiations, unless the landowner requests that we inform identified individuals in the community. The easement is public knowledge after it is filed at the County Clerk’s office. ❧ Leave a Lasting Gift to Conservation Are you interested in helping to create new public conservation areas for wildlife habitat, education, and quiet recreation? Would you like to help protect farmland in Columbia County? Do you want to ensure that children in Columbia County will always have a chance to explore and learn about nature? If so, consider making a lasting impact through a gift in your Will to the Columbia Land Conservancy. The following is an example of language that can be used when preparing your Will: “I give to the Columbia Land Conservancy, a New York nonprofit corporation, having its principal offices at 49 Main Street, P.O. Box 299, Chatham, NY 12037, the sum of $____ (or alternately, ____% of my estate) for its general purposes (or for a specific project that you have discussed with a CLC staff person).” The Conservancy greatly appreciates the generosity of individuals who wish to leave a gift to further the conservation of Columbia County’s outstanding natural resources and open spaces. For additional information concerning the Columbia Land Conservancy, please call Judy Anderson at (518) 392-5252, ext. 210. ❧ Over the past 16 years, CLC has protected 14,670 acres with 103 conservation easements and assisted in the establishment of 3,515 acres of public lands in the county—protecting more land than any other countywide land trust in New York State. This property, located in the Town of Austerlitz, was protected by CLC in 1995. Judy Anderson Land Protection with Conservation Easements 7

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