Many who own recreational land develop a special love for it. We’ve spent many hours there—perhaps over several decades—hiking around the property to enjoy nature’s beauty through the various seasons or sitting around quiet campfires and listening to owls. Some of you may have enjoyed many quiet hours sitting in deer stands or been thrilled by special wildlife observations that were captured on your trail cameras.
The land may have been passed along by ancestors, and you may have grown up there. Perhaps later you’ve shared many fun experiences on the site with your children or grandchildren. Your love and connection to your special property is strong, but in your quiet moments, you might find yourself wondering what will happen to it in the future.
Green Lake Conservancy (GLC) can offer you a legal tool that will protect your land in perpetuity. It’s known as a conservation easement (CE), and when activated, it can keep your property in its current natural state. It provides your land with permanent protection from future development. Family, heirs, or future owners can continue to use the land as you have, but you’ll have the assurance that it will always remain natural.
There may be certain tax advantages for placing a CE on your property. If the easement meets federal regulations and is donated, it can be claimed as an income tax deduction. A decrease in property taxes might also be a possibility. Landowners with a CE still own their land; control access; and can sell, lease, bequeath, or transfer the property as they see fit, but future owners will be bound by the terms of the agreement, giving the land strong legal protection. As your local land trust, GLC can assist you in the process of considering and perhaps ultimately completing and filing a CE. Initially, this involves a personal interview and discussion about how a CE works, and then GLC members will spend time walking the property to learn about and document its current vegetation and wildlife.
GLC will work to prepare the legal documentation, which includes a baseline and a land management plan. They’ll ensure the continuing protection of the property through an annual monitoring visit.
To date, GLC has worked with a number of landowners to protect hundreds of acres of forests, fields, streams, and wetlands in the Green Lake area. If you’re interested in learning more about protecting your special property with a CE, please contact us and we’ll arrange a meeting.
Donating to our land trust or including it in one’s estate plan will contribute to conserving the beauty of our beloved Green Lake area. For more information or to make a contribution, please visit greenlakeconservancy.org .
Tom Schultz is a Green Lake Conservancy Board Member.