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Prairie Facts

Why Use a Conservation Easement?

Indiangrass and Tall Azure Sage

Landowners who donate conservation easements are interested in preserving special features of their property, such as wildlife, undeveloped land, natural scenery, or historic or cultural significance. Easement donors may also be concerned about maintaining the economic viability of their land in the face of increasing tax burdens.  Many donors wish to prevent the property from being developed or subdivided in the future.

Donating a conservation easement may result in tax benefits for the landowner. Because easements usually involve giving up rights to conduct certain activities, such as development, on a property, they usually result in some reduction in appraised value of the property.

The value of a conservation easement, which is the amount the property value is reduced by the easement, may count as a charitable donation and may be deducted from federal income taxes. In some cases, this can be a significant incentive for land preservation.

In addition, donating a conservation easement may exempt a landowner’s heirs from or reduce estate taxes, which often force heirs to sell all or part of a family property. Conservation easements may also lower property taxes. To be eligible for these tax benefits, the value of the conservation easement must be determined by a qualified real estate appraiser.

For more information about donating conservation easements to NPAT, please contact the Native Prairies Association of Texas, 2002 - A Guadalupe St. PMB 290, Austin, TX 78705-5609, 512-772-4741 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

For more information, download the complete guide, “Conservation Easements: A Guide For Texas Landowners,” in Adobe PDF format (Adobe Acrobat required), from Texas Parks and Wildlife at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/landwater/land/private/conservation_easements/ .

For a landowner’s packet of information regarding conservation approaches available to landowners , contact Carolyn Vogel, Executive Director of the Texas Land Trust Council, at 512-236-0655, Texas Land Trust Council, 1305 San Antonio Street, Austin, TX 78701, or via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

Thanks to Jason Spangler (NPAT), David Bezanson (NAPA), and Texas Parks and Wildlife for the text of this article.