How We Protect Land
Coastal Mountains Land Trust protects land in one of several ways:
- Accepts donations of conservation easements
- Accepts donations of land
- Purchases land
- Accepts donation of a Reserved Life Estate
In each case, we work by voluntary, cooperative, and confidential relationships with individual landowners to develop the most appropriate conservation method for their property.
Deciding to conserve your land requires careful, thorough consideration of your family's interests for the future of the property. Our professional land protection program and your own legal and financial counsel can help you decide which is the appropriate option for you, but the heart of the process is really your hope to permanently protect the scenic beauty, wildlife habitats, and valuable natural resources of your land.
A conservation easement is a type of deed that keeps land in private
ownership with specific covenants that describe how the land can be used.
The easement is donated to the Land Trust, which accepts the responsibility
of assuring that the conservation values of the property are permanently
conserved. Easements are customized for each property. For example, some
easements keep all or part of the property "forever wild", while others
allow forest management or agriculture.
Donation of a conservation easement can result in significant tax benefits
for the landowner if appraisal of the conservation easement establishes that
the value of the property has been reduced by the restrictions of the
easement. Also, if the landowner places the easement land in Maine's Farm
and Open Space tax classification, the property taxes can be reduced.
Our Preserves are properties to which the Land Trust owns full title. Many
preserves were donated to us by generous landowners who wished to leave a
legacy for future generations by conserving their property while providing
the community an opportunity to appreciate its natural and scenic values.
When a landowner offers to donate land to the Land Trust, we evaluate it
thoroughly to determine that it has substantial conservation value and
public benefits that merit the effort and expense of our permanent
stewardship. Once land is accepted for conservation as a preserve, we are
committed to protecting it perpetually.
A donation of land is usually the simplest method to conserve its resources,
and provides the maximum income and estate tax benefits, which are
established by a simple appraisal process.
Because real estate is quite expensive and we must raise funds for land
purchases, purchasing land is not our general practice. However, in some
instances, the Land Trust will purchase properties with exceptional
conservation values. When we purchase land, we negotiate on a voluntary
basis with the landowner for either a "fair market" price or a "bargain
A fair market price is what the land would bring if it was sold on the open
real estate market, as established by an appraisal of the property by an
independent real estate appraiser. Some landowners can benefit from a
bargain sale of their property-that is, a sale for below the appraised
value. The difference between the appraised value and the purchase price is
considered a charitable gift. A bargain sale is a demonstration of the
landowner's generosity and commitment to conserving their property, with
mutual financial benefits for both landowner and Land Trust.
By donating a reserved life estate, you can donate ownership of your land to
the Land Trust today, but reserve the right to use the property during your
lifetime, or the lifetime of designated family members. In this way, you can
be assured that your property is permanently conserved but still use the
property as you have - farming the fields, managing the forest, or managing
public access. In addition to maintaining use of the property, by donating a
reserved life estate, you can also realize the tax benefits of the donation
For tax purposes, determining the value of the donation begins by getting an
appraisal of the property's fair market value. Next, the Internal Revenue
Service's actuarial tables are used to determine the life expectancy of the
donor and any designated family members. Then, the value of using the land
each year of the life expectancy is estimated. This value is subtracted from
the original value of the land, and the remainder is considered a
Realizing Your Land Conservation Options
If you are interested in discussing options for conserving your property, we
would be very pleased to meet with you. Please call Ian Stewart, our Executive
Director, at 207-236-7091, or e-mail him at [email protected].
We can arrange a time to meet, talk through your interests, and determine how
we can best work with you to conserve the important scenic and natural resources
of your land.