The Immediate Threat
We are at an important crossroads in Easthampton and the surrounding region. One road leads to the irreversible sprawl that we are all too familiar with. The other road will protect our rich mosaic of forested and agricultural lands, rivers and wetlands, biodiversity, and scenic and historic properties. The first road diminishes the beauty and importance of natural systems. The second road protects them, fitting human uses to those natural systems.
Development pressures are unprecedented. It is imperative to protect land while there is still a chance to do so. The next 5 to 10 years may determine the long-term character of our region. We have a great responsibility to guard against ecological and scenic decline.
The following options may have significant tax benefits:
Conservation Restriction (CR)
A CR is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization whereby the landowner retains ownership, but gives up the right to develop the land. CRs are permanent and remain in effect when the land is sold or inherited.
Gift of Land
A landowner’s gift of property to the land trust is protected and managed in accordance with the donor’s wishes.
Sale of Land
The land trust may purchase land with important natural resource values, or which is threatened by development, and protect it.
Retained Life Estate
Landowners may donate property to the land trust but retain a life interest for themselves and their family. This allows them to live on or use the land for their lifetime.
The land trust works with the landowner to design a limited development scenario whereby environmentally sensitive land is protected as open space, while well-planned development in the remaining area allows the owner to realize income.
A gift of land through a person’s will removes the property from the donor’s taxable estate.
We welcome the opportunity to meet with landowners to discuss various options that may be available for their land.