WHAT EXACTLY IS A LAND TRUST?
A land trust is a nonprofit organization that is directly involved in protecting and managing land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical, or productive value. Land trusts can purchase or accept donations of land. They may manage land owned by others or advise landowners on how to conserve their own land. Land trusts respect property rights as a fundamental value.
While all land trusts work to benefit people in their communities by conserving land, most of them also have programs that advance their missions in other ways. These programs may include research, education, public events, trail maintenance, youth engagement, fundraising, collaborative grant administration, and resource restoration.
Because it is a private organization, a land trust can be more flexible and creative and can generally act more quickly than government agencies. It can negotiate with landowners directly and discreetly. It can hold and manage land and other assets as a corporation to meet a wide range of public interest goals.
Many land trusts work in partnership with local government, community organizations, and other non-profit groups. These partnerships often rely on the land trusts’ ability to bring about land-based solutions that advance shared objectives.
Their tax-exempt, non-profit status is an advantage in raising funds. Land trusts have a well-established reputation for securing and executing grants with private donors, foundations, and government entities. Their nonprofit status also brings them a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land or money may qualify for tax savings.
WHAT ARE CONSERVATION EASEMENTS?
Legal agreements voluntarily entered by the landowner with the Land Trust. The Land Trust then monitors the use of the property, with the goal to protect the land from being developed. It is a foundational principle for the Magic Valley Land Trust that force, pressure, lawsuits, or any other form of outside pressure should not be used with landowners. Through a relationship of mutual respect and trust, the Landowner and the Land Trust enter the conservation easement agreement.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO LANDOWNERS?
Landowners work with the Land Trust to dictate the terms of their conservation easement, the Land Trust also works to find how this agreement furthers the mission of the Land Trust. There is an opportunity for potential tax benefits to the landowner under certain conditions. The land is then protected for future generations as the Land Trust becomes a partner as a steward of the land within the terms of the agreement. The land can be sold or passed down through generations, however; the terms of the land trust and the permitted use of the land remains with the land, no matter the new landownership.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO THE COMMUNITY?
The Magic Valley Land Trust works to serve the community at large. Conservation Easements are one aspect of that work. It is through conservation easements (if in the agreement with the landowner) the Land Trust is able to develop safe hiking trails, public access and recreation sites for the community to enjoy for generations.
The community also benefits from protected waterways, habitats, and wildlife to enjoy sustained prosperity for the Magic Valley.