To preserve and protect the natural values of your land forever, consider placing a conservation covenant on the property. Conservation Covenants permanently protect the natural features of your land.
About Conservation Covenants
A conservation covenant is a formal legal commitment to protect your land for nature that still allows you to own your property, live on your property, and sell it whenever you want. The decision to covenant part or all of your land can affect your finances; knowing the benefits of land covenants can help to better plan for the future.
Tax Advantages for Land Covenants
There are two types of tax advantages associated with placing a covenant on your land that you might want to explore if protecting your land is important to you:
Natural Area Protection Tax Exemption Program (NAPTEP)
This program is unique to the Islands Trust Area. If you voluntarily place a conservation covenant on all or a part of your property, the protected portion would receive a 65% reduction in property taxes. This program makes owning protected land more affordable.
Ecological Gifts Program
You can apply to this federal program when donating a conservation covenant and receive tax benefits for your donation. This program is of particular interest for property owners dealing with issues of capital gains on the land.
If you purchased your land many years ago, it has likely appreciated in value, making it difficult to sell or transfer ownership without triggering significant capital gains tax consequences.
Not all land is eligible for conservation covenants. Natural lands with lower human disturbance levels are of interest. The decision to accept a conservation covenant proposal is at the discretion of the Islands Trust Conservancy Board, the decision-making body of the Islands Trust Conservancy.
We highly recommend that you discuss your conservation covenant plans with a lawyer and/or financial advisor, mortgage holder (if the property is mortgaged), and your family (especially if you plan to transfer land ownership to family members). If your professional advisors are not familiar with an option we describe here, we are happy to provide additional information.