The Crested Butte Land Trust recognizes and understands the connection that landowners have to their land. The Gunnison Valley’s spectacular landscape isn’t just lush, green irrigated river valleys or iconic peaks of wilderness, it’s also our community’s home, heritage, and legacy. At the Crested Butte Land Trust, we work with willing landowners to conserve land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historic, and productive values. Learn more about the benefits of conserving your property below, and contact us to explore the best options to conserve your land forever. We look forward to working with you!
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows you to continue to own and use your land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs. Conservation easements provide great flexibility for landowners. Working together, landowners and land trusts write conservation easements that reflect both the landowner’s and the land trust’s goals. No two conservation easements are the same.
For example, an easement on property containing rare wildlife habitat might prohibit any development, while one on a ranch might allow continued ranching and the building of additional agricultural structures. An easement may apply to just a portion of the property, like a trail easement, though easements do not require any public access.
A landowner sometimes sells a conservation easement, but usually easements are donated. If the donation benefits the public by permanently protecting important conservation resources and meets other federal tax code requirements, it can qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation. The amount of the donation is the difference between the land’s value with the easement and its value without the easement. Placing an easement on your property may or may not result in property tax savings, and the Land Trust recommends each landowner seek their own professional and legal advice.
Additionally, a conservation easement can be essential for passing land on to the next generation. By removing the land’s development potential, the easement lowers its market value, which in turn lowers estate taxes. Whether the easement is donated during a lifetime or by will, it can make a critical difference in the heirs’ ability to keep the land intact.
Ranching is a crucial part of the Gunnison Valley’s history and continues to play a vital role in our balanced local economy. Private working ranchlands and their rich resources provide essential wildlife habitat and create incredible scenic views.
The Land Trust works on a voluntary basis with private landowners in Gunnison County to preserve over 2,640 acres of working ranches to date plus an additional 1,475 acres with agricultural leases for grazing. These ranches remain in private ownership and management, and landowners voluntarily agree to restrict future development on their properties. To respect their agricultural operations, most of the conserved ranch land is closed to the public.
There are many benefits that can accompany a conservation easement. These benefits may include a federal tax deduction, Colorado state tax credits, and property tax benefits.
The Federal Conservation Tax Deduction (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. The Colorado Conservation Tax Credit (Credit) is a unique tool by which landowners can preserve their land for themselves and for generations to come. Through this Credit, donors of conservation easements can receive tax credit certificates issued for up to 90% of the donated value up to a maximum of $5 million per donation.
Keep It Colorado, a statewide nonprofit coalition of conservation organizations, has created a helpful resource for landowners interested in conserving their property. Use the buttons below to learn baseline information about conservation easments, the benefits of conservation on private property, and how you can ensure the conservation values of your property are preserved for years to come.
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