Frequently Asked Questions

Over the last 25 years, the Crested Butte Land Trust has worked with more than 50 landowners – families, ranchers, and businesses – to preserve the heritage and open spaces of the Gunnison Valley.

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We use a variety of tools to protect land in the Gunnison Valley. We only participate in conservation with willing landowners, and our conservation agreements last forever, so your land will remain protected no matter what.

Conservation Easements

Conservation Easements are very powerful tools, and we use them in 51% of our conservation deals. Learn more about these agreements in the menu option below.

Trail Easements

A trail easement is a legal agreement that allows trail access through a property, without affecting the entire property. This type of agreement has made many of the trails surrounding the Town of Crested Butte feasible.


Acquisitions are cases where the Land Trust buys a property for conservation. These deals are typically more expensive for the Land Trust, but they reduce our costs in the future. This is generally the preferred method of conservation for recreation and education values, or for areas that are home to endangered plants or wildlife, or otherwise particularly valuable in terms of natural or cultural resources.

Ambassador Landscapes

An ambassador landscape is a property that connects people to the land, especially people who are new to the area. The purpose of an ambassador landscape is to “speak” to people – to share our passion for the land and to create emotional connections to our mountains and valleys. The plans for Glacier Community Farm will create an ideal ambassador landscape, where visitors and locals can learn the many benefits of land conservation

Land Trades

Federal agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the US Forest Service prefer to manage large swaths of land, rather than small chunks of land that are surrounded by privately owned land. So, the Land Trust sometimes trades conserved land with federal agencies. This allows the Land Trust and federal agencies to manage land in the way that will be most successful, and promotes stronger conservation valley-wide.

A conservation easement is a voluntary, private agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization like the Crested Butte Land Trust. They are carefully crafted to achieve a landowner’s vision for conserving the natural, recreational, scenic, historical, and agricultural values of the land. Each conservation easement is customized to the landowner’s goals, and it stays with the title of the land forever. The landowner continues to own and manage the land, and can pass it on to their heirs, or may choose to sell it. The Crested Butte Land Trust’s staff and legal counsel are skilled in this type of work, and their services are included at no cost to the landowner.

Absolutely. You maintain ownership of your land. The details of each conservation agreement are unique, and tailored to your goals. Through this agreement, you may choose to voluntarily limit some of uses of your land, like mining or commercial development. The land does not become government property, and remains on the tax rolls.

Choosing to place a conservation easement on your land is both a personal decision and a financial one. Many landowners choose to enter into the agreement because they love their land, and want the peace of mind that comes from knowing their land is protected from haphazard development, while still maintaining private ownership of the property. There are also financial incentives to placing a conservation easement on your land, including income and estate tax savings.

No. While most agreements prohibit large-scale subdivision or development, mining and non-agricultural commercial and industrial uses, they don’t have to prohibit all future development. Each conservation agreement is unique, and the Crested Butte Land Trust will work with you to meet your goals. The agreements are intended to be flexible enough to allow for limited residential development.

Once a conservation easement is in place, the Crested Butte Land Trust works with the private landowner to ensure that the easement’s goals are upheld. We are always available as a resource to the landowner, but we will not get involved in day-to-day decisions about land management or agricultural practices. We will monitor the property once a year to ensure all of the mutual agreed-upon terms of the easement are being complied with. But, we’ll make an appointment ahead of time to make sure the timing is okay with your schedule, and you’re more than welcome to join us on the visit.

Absolutely. You will retain full ownership of the land, including the right to sell it. The property is sold with the conservation agreement attached and the new landowner will need to uphold the terms of the conservation agreement.

No. You will work with the Land Trust to craft an easement that meets your goals. You may choose to allow public access, but it is not required. The choice is entirely yours.

When you work with the Crested Butte Land Trust, there are tax benefits at both the state and federal levels. Donations of land, conservation agreements, or money may qualify you for income or gift savings.

The Federal Conservation Tax Deduction is an incentive that promotes donation of a conservation easement. The Deduction allows landowners to deduct all or part of the value of a donated easement from their taxable income.

If you choose to donate a conservation agreement, you may also be eligible to receive a tax credit from the state based on the value of the agreement as determined by a qualified appraisal. Colorado conservation tax credits are available to donors of “qualified” conservation agreements. The formula for the state income tax credit allows landowners to receive 75% of the first $100,000 of the donated value of the conservation agreement and 50% of any remaining donation up to a total credit of $1.5 million. Colorado allows these credits to be carried forward for 20 years, during which time they may be used to offset the donor’s state income tax liability, transferred one time to other Colorado taxpayers, and may be sold as cash.

More detailed information about the tax benefits can be found here.