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2011-03-24

New conservation tool controls properties’ future uses

Did you know landowners can preserve all or part of their ranch and farm land from development even after they pass away? Or that they can arrange for part of their land to be preserved indefinitely while allowing other parts to be used for various purposes?
Conservation easements provide a way to customize these types of agreements to suit the needs and desires of each individual landowner.
Administrators with the Lower Colorado River Association will sponsor a free conservation easement workshop from 1 pm to 4:30 pm, Friday, March 25, at the American Legion Hall, 200 Legion Road, in Llano. Registration is not required in advance, but will take place immediately before the workshop at 12:30 pm. The workshop will discuss how conservation easements can help landowners plan ahead to conserve land, about the potential tax benefits of conservation easements and the role of land trust organizations in conservation easement agreements, and more.
“A conservation easement is a flexible and effective way to conserve and protect private property,” said Bobby Humphrey, LCRA natural resources conservation coordinator. “It’s a legal agreement that ensures property will be managed according to the landowner’s wishes for years into the future.”
It also may qualify the landowner for tax benefits. To qualify for tax benefits, easements must be granted in perpetuity to either a nonprofit 501(c)(3) publicly supported tax-exempt conservation organization - commonly called a land trust - or a government agency involved in land and water conservation.
“These easements can be tailored for a few acres or a few thousand acres and can help protect scenic vistas, historic buildings, wildlife habitat or ranchland, for example,” Humphrey said. “More landowners in Texas are conserving their lands with this instrument, and we are getting the word out about the program and its benefits.”
A conservation easement is a restriction landowners voluntarily place on specified uses of their property to protect natural, productive or cultural features. The landowner will retain legal title to the property and determine the types of uses to continue and those to restrict.
The property can still be bought, sold and inherited, but the conservation easement is tied to the land and binds all present and future owners to its terms and restrictions.
For more information, contact Humphrey at 1-800-776-5272, Ext. 7155, or at bobby.humphrey@lcra.org.