The Siskiyou Land Trust works with willing landowners to help conserve natural, agricultural and scenic values of Siskiyou County land and resources.
Local land trusts, organized as charitable organizations under federal tax laws, are involved in conserving land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical and productive values.Land trusts can purchase land for permanent protection, or they may use one of several other methods:
- Accept donations of land or the funds to purchase land.
- Accept a bequest.
- Accept the donation of a conservation easement which permanently limits the type and scope of development that can take place on the land.
- In some instances, land trusts also purchase conservation easements.
Why does Siskiyou County need land and resource conservation?
What is a Conservation Easement?
A conservation easement (or “conservation restriction”) is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently restricts certain aspects of land use in order to protect the conservation values of the property. Landowners may either donate or a sell a conservation easement. When a landowner places a conservation easement on his or her land, he or she maintains ownership and use of the property and can sell it or pass it on to heirs. The land is subject to certain restrictions agreed upon by the landowner and the land trust. For example, a landowner might agree to preclude a subdivision or restrict development on his or her property to a specific area.
Conservation easements attach to the land. Therefore, future landowners are bound by these specific promises as well, and the land trust is responsible for monitoring the property and upholding the terms of the easement. Conservation easements have become one of the most commonly used land conservation tools in the county. Currently, local and regional land trusts hold more than 11,600 conservation easements, protecting more than five million acres of land.
Benefits of Conservation Easements
In addition to the satisfaction landowners get from knowing their land is protected in perpetuity, there are also several potential tax advantages to granting a conservation easement: an income tax deduction; an estate tax benefit; and, possibly a reduction in property taxes. A conservation easement donation that meets certain federal tax code regulation – this is, one that is perpetual, is given to a qualified conservation organization and is given “exclusively for conservation purposes” – can qualify as a tax deductible charitable gift. ( See Internal Revenue Code Section 170(h)(1)). By removing or decreasing a property’s development potential, a conservation easement may also result on the reduction of property taxes in some states and estate tax benefits of the landowner and his or her heirs. (Landowners should consult a tax attorney and additional reference material for more information on the potential tax benefits of donating a conservation easement.
Siskiyou Land Trust Conservation Easement Projects
The Scott Valley Conservation Easement places 5,680 acres of farming, ranching and riparian waterway into five conservation easements.