Other Land Conservation Options

Bargain Sale

The landowner sells their property to a conservation organization for a cost below the appraised market value. The difference between the sale price and the property’s fair market value may be treated as a charitable donation. This option potentially reduces the capital gains tax on the sale and possibly an income tax deduction as well.


  • Landowner benefits from a charitable tax deduction
  • Landowner is free of the real estate tax burden
  • The size of the estate is reduced, thereby potentially reducing future state and federal tax consequences

Sale at Fair Market Value

In this scenario, a landowner can opt to bequest land in their will to a land conservation organization.


  • Allows the landowner enjoyment of their property during their
  • If during a landowner’s lifetime circumstances change, the will can
    be re-written
  • Removes the property from the estate which reduces the tax burden
    for the heirs

Charitable Remainder Trust

There is a multitude of ways to structure a charitable remainder trust. The following is just one example.

A landowner, with the help of an attorney having experience in planned giving, establishes a Charitable Remainder Trust or CRT. The landowner donates a conservation restriction on that property to a land trust organization. The restricted land is then donated to the CRT, which allows for a charitable tax deduction. The Trust sells the property and invests the proceeds. An agreed amount is paid as an annuity, or in a slightly different structure as an agreed percentage of the CRT’s assets distributed annually. In both cases, payments are for a set term or over the beneficiary’s lifetime. At the end of the duration, any remaining funds revert to the land trust organization.


  • Landowner enjoys capital gains tax benefits and possible income tax benefits
  • A guaranteed income stream for a period of time
  • Diversifies the landowners assets
  • The land is permanently protected

Limited Development

This option allows the landowner to develop a portion of their property while keeping the remainder of the land permanently protected. This is achieved through a donation or conservation restriction. Sometimes the conservation organization will partner with the landowner or sell outright the development portion to fund the conservation component.


  • Income to the landowner
  • Retains conservation values on a portion of the property

Conservation loans

If an interested party is unable to make an outright gift to the Trust, they might want to consider making a loan to HCT.


  • Income to the person making the loan
  • Ability for HCT to be more flexible and possibly experience less expensive borrowing costs than from conventional sources

Loan Guarantees

An interested party may also opt to guarantee a loan that the Trust has taken out to purchase specific land parcels.


  • Facilitates the loan process