Conservation Easements Part 6 – Determining the Value
Conservation easements have value. Landowners can donate the CE and obtain tax benefits of a non-cash charitable contribution. Landowners can sell the CE and be paid for its value. A middle ground is something called a “bargain sale” where the landowner sells the CE (or a property) below its appraised value and the difference between the appraised value and selling price is counted as a non-cash charitable contribution that can qualify for tax benefits.
So, how much is the easement worth? We turn to a qualified appraiser to get that answer. He or she will evaluate the value of the Property with all of its rights intact. That means if there are twenty building rights, a forest with substantial timber value, and 100 acres being farmed, the appraisal will reflect those conditions. That is called the “Before” value.
Then, assuming the CE limits development to two houses, allows a very limited annual timber harvest, identifies a route for a permanent hiking trail, and creates a buffer along a stream that protects clean water but takes twenty acres out of production, the appraiser establishes a value of the Property with those conditions. That is called the “After” value.
Then it is a simple subtraction problem where “before value” minus “after value” equals “conservation easement value.”
Some of you have asked about the cost of protecting land with a conservation easement and that topic will be coming sometime soon, so stay tuned.
Two Ways You Can Help CATS Save Land and Make Trails
ONE: Do you ever make on-line purchases through AMAZON? Then, you can support CATS every time you make a purchase? When you shop at AmazonSmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of the purchase price to Champlain Area Trails. Bookmark the link: http://smile.amazon.com/ch/26-4004845 to set it up and then, every time you shop on Amazon, you will support CATS!
TWO: Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, VT supports a separate non-profit every month. April is Champlain Area Trails Month! Here’s how they do it: Every time you make a purchase and don’t take a bag, they donate a nickel to us. All those nickels add up so next time you’re in Burlington, stop at the Outdoor Gear Exchange and just say “no” when they offer you a bag!
Saturday, March 19 – Third Saturday of the Month Trail Project. Help prepare the trails for the upcoming Grand Hike. Meet Bill Amadon at the Dogwood Bread Company in Wadhams at 9:00 a.m. We’ll hike the route and prune as we go so you can enjoy a “sneak preview” of this year’s route. Please email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the office (962-2287) if you plan to come. (Last week we announced the project would be to build boardwalks at Sophie’s Lair Trail but we changed it because of wet conditions).
Saturday, March 19 – Design Your Dream Trail (for children 5 to 9) at the Erin Hall Studio in Westport from 10:00 to 11:15 a.m. Children will create, design, and illustrate their very own trail map and have an opportunity to share stories about what they think makes a great trail. There are only a few spots left for this workshop. Click here to register.
Saturday, May 14 – The CATS Grand Hike to the Essex Inn—an 11-mile hike that promotes inn-to-inn hiking in New York’s Champlain Valley. Click here for more information and to register.
CATS Executive Director
- What is a Conservation Easement? (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Local Examples of Conservation Easements (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Walking the French Way (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- More Work to Do at Split Rock Wildway (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- CATS Announces New Board Chair (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)