CONSERVATION EASEMENT SERVICES
A landowner considering a conservation easement first needs practical advise on whether one is feasible or not, where to get help and how to get started. A phone call to AgLand will often nip it in the bud and save you years of frustration, but if there is potential, we will come to your ranch/timberland for a day or two on your schedule to better understand your needs, identify working strategies and document a procedure to take you through it.
AgLand only advocates for working-lands landowners. Our role as a conservation easement facilitator is to protect all of a landowner’s interests, but our particular practical expertise is in the guarding of both the economic integrity and uninfringed management of working-ranch or forest properties through the conservation easement process, while optimizing financial returns to landowners.
In most cases, we engage working-lands landowners interested in selling a conservation easement by a long term agreement, and are paid only if the terms of the agreement are achieved. AgLand gets paid at the time the landowner is paid for the completed transaction.
WHAT A LANDOWNER NEEDS TO KNOW
Please contact us for more information or to make an appointment for a free phone consultation.
What is a CE?
A conservation easement (CE) is a tax incentive vehicle created in the US Treasury regulations. Its purpose is to remove qualified rights from real estate. The conveyance of that right is a grant deed like any other real estate grant deed with one significant difference; the right conveyed cannot be used by the grantee. By becoming a grantee, the entity accepts the responsibility to watch and enforce what restrictions the seller has imposed on the land; forever.The grant conveyance is a liability rather than an asset.
To qualify, a right removed (like development or discontinued use of land for a habitat preservation), must achieve some natural resource conservation public policy on the books at either the local, state or federal levels. Almost anything imaginable can qualify, but in order to sell it, there needs to be an interested and capable buyer.
What do Land Trusts Do?
A land trust is a non-profit, non-government organization (NGO), chartered by a State and recognized by the IRS as a eligible to be a CE grantee. They are chartered to solely represent the interests of the public.
Landowners interested in selling a CE usually do not need a land trust to negotiate a deed and acquire funding. Although someonemust come to the property each year and watch and inspect to ensure compliance of (police) the deed restrictions, which is called monitoring. If the funder does not have the capacity to carry out the monitoring, a land trust will be a necessary partner at some point in the process. If the deed is constructed properly and the land trust paid adequately, any land trust doing their job will take on the responsibility. At any given location there will usually be more than one good land trust to choose from, although perhaps not more than one local one.
Land trusts do not supply the capital to purchase a CE, but they are often the deed grantee, The money comes from public programs and private foundations. If a land trust is the primary contact of the landowner, they will approach the funder in behalf of the landowner. In order to obtain the funding, a land trust must incorporate the funders’ goals in the deed.
Government entities can also be the grantee, but regardless of whether the funder is public or private, land trusts usually become the funders’ agent to provide services to carry out the necessary tasks in a CE transaction like compiling a baseline report, administering funds to help a seller resolve title issues and commissioning an appraisal.
Although some land trusts have a significant private sector experience within their staff and board members, If they are perceived to be representing a landowner’s interests, they can loose their charter or their funding source. Land trusts tend to be perceived as landowner advisors, and often take on that role. But a buyer or buyer’s agent advising a seller is simply a lack of fiduciary integrity