Conserving Your Land
If you own land along a waterway in Vermont and are interested in keeping that land permanently protected and available for the public, or are interested in conserving riparian lands for their ecological and wildlife values, please contact us.
VRC most frequently works with landowners who donate or sell to VRC a conservation easement, a legal agreement that becomes part of the deed and can be tailored to meet your goals for the land. Every easement is different, depending on the goals of the grantor. VRC’s priorities include:
- Protection of special places along the waters of Vermont such as waterfalls, gorges, swimming holes, wetlands, river and lake shores;
- Protection of wildlife habitat, natural communities, biological diversity and scenic beauty along the waters of Vermont; and
- Protection of access to lands along the waters of Vermont for recreation and education.
- Protection of lands along rivers to reduce the risk to life and property damage from flooding.
The easement could be on a strip of land along the waterway, or it could be on an entire parcel of larger acreage. That would be determined after discussions between our staff and the landowner. The easement permanently protects the land from development and guarantees that it will remain as you envision it in perpetuity. Vermont state law protects landowners who allow public access from liability.
Once VRC holds the easement on the land, it takes on the responsibility of stewardship, the right to defend the terms of the easement against any future violation. VRC staff and/or volunteers visit the site on a regular basis, usually yearly, to verify that the terms of the easement are being followed. Photos and written text capture the land when the conservation easement is placed on the land, and those become a permanent record of the land for future monitoring.
Since VRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the donation of a conservation easement is a charitable gift which may be deductible for federal income tax purposes. The value of the gift, determined by an appraisal, is equal to the difference between the fair market value of the property before and after the easement is donated.
The value of land with a conservation easement is less than if it were unencumbered; donating an easement could help with estate planning and lower gift taxes. You should consult with your attorney and accountant to see if this is something that will benefit your personal financial situation.