Preserve Your Land, Preserve Our Quality of Life
The benefits of land preservation and wise land use tie directly to health, sustainability and quality of life:
Trees and plants - help clean the air as they process carbon dioxide wastes and produce oxygen. They also provide food and cover for animal life.
The riverine environment - is a vital source of water, fish and animal life.
Open space - nourishes our mental health and gives recreation opportunities.
Cultural & historic sites - ground us as a people who have used this land in antiquity.
Ranching & Farming - for economic benefit, healthy food production and development of the soul.
VVLP can help preserve Verde Valley land in the following ways:
- Through careful management of the riverine environment and support of the Verde River Greenway
(one of VVLP's current activities)   http://www.pr.state.az.us/Parks/VERI/index.html
- Through careful management of our National Forest and National Park sites with sensitive
- Through active management of ranch lands and growing space for food stuffs and wine vineyards
- Through purchase and acquisition of critical and vetted land parcels
- Through conservation easements to preserve the current activity in perpetuity
What is a Conservation Easement?
A Conservation Easement is a legal agreement between the landowner and a non-profit conservation organization or government agency. It allows you to continue to own and use your land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs. However, it ensures that it's natural value and heritage will be preserved. The property is protected from development in perpetuity while retaining landowner's rights to desired activities and uses. Conservation Easements/Agreements can also provide potential tax benefits to the land owner based on the protection of significant natural resources on the property. Significant natural resources or "Conservation Values" are described as:
1.Preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by, or the education of the general public.
Each property, and its Conservation Values, is unique; therefore each Conservation Easement is unique. The landowner does not relinquish ownership of the property encumbered by an easement. Rather he/she gives up certain rights, primarily the right to subdivide and/or develop the property. The right to continue agricultural production, timber harvesting, farming or equine related activity is not impaired. Such activity is undertaken in accordance with the protection of the property’s natural resources and wildlife habitat. Future owners will also be bound by the agreement's terms. An agreement to protect rare wildlife habitat might prohibit any development there, for example, while another part of the farm or ranch might allow continued farming or ranching and the building of additional agricultural structures. Additionally, the landowner is not obligated to provide access to the general public. The Conservation Easement agreement with the non-profit partner often provides for a stewardship endowment for the annual monitoring requirement by the non-profit organization.
2.Protection of relatively natural wildlife habitat.
3.Preservation of farmland, forests or other open space where such preservation will yield
significant public benefit.
4.Preservation of farmland, forests or other open space where such preservation is pursuant to
a clearly delineated federal, state, or local conservation policy that will yield significant
5.Preservation of historically important lands.
Conservation Easements can fulfill multiple goals of land protection and management, such as passive recreation and protection of water resources along with traditonal use of the land.
Kinds of Easements:
Historic preservation Agricultural and grazing preservation
Scenic preservation Open Space preservation
Forever wild Working forest
The CEs are held by a 501-c-3 non-profit organization whose responsibility it is to monitor the property to make sure agreements are kept by the property owner.
Acquisition of a Conservation Easement by donation or purchase/sale:
When you donate a CE, you voluntarily agree to permanently limit uses on your land in order to protect and preserve the land as is for future generations. A voluntary conservation agreement is a legal agreement between a land owner and a non-profit land trust In exchange for donating a CE, qualified landowners may receive a tax benefit in the form of a deduction. The landowner decides what uses and activities will be allowed in perpetuity as is appropriate.
Acquisition may also be by purchase of the land. An appraisal is made. The final number is arrived at by the difference between the appraisal of the land as open land or ranch land; and, the appraisal of the land as developed land. So the final appraisal is higher than with no new activity and lower than full development. The purchase may come from a non-profit organization, a grant, a private financier, a government program, or any combination of these. The landowner decides what uses and activities will be allowed in perpetuity as is appropriate.
Who Qualifies for Tax Incentives
Federal tax incentives help family farmers, ranchers and other moderate income landowners. The recent increase in the tax deduction will allow more working family farmers and ranchers to receive an economic incentive for preserving and protecting the land. Voluntary CEs range from just a few acres to thousands of acres. If you own land that has any natural or historic value, you may be able to take advantage of these significant new economic benefits as follows:
- Raises the maximum deduction you can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30% of your
adjusted gross income (AGI) to 50%;
- Allows you to deduct up to 100% of your AGI if you qualify as a farmer or
- Increases the number of years over which you can take the qualifying deductions from 6 years to 16
For expert advice contact a tax attorney as the methods are variable. The decision to qualify for federal tax
benefits rests solely with the IRS. Tax advantages for local property taxes are the responsibility of the County Tax
Assessor. VVLP does not give tax advice. More tax credit information for Conservation Easements.