Land Protection Options
There are several conservation options to consider in deciding what type of land protection is best for you and your land. These include conservation easements, land acquisitions, and partnership projects.
Conservation Easements (CE’s)
The Conservancy works with private landowners to permanently protect, for future generations, natural features and working landscapes on their property by creating individualized legal agreements that place certain permanent development restrictions on the property. Conservation easements can result in significant tax benefits for donors. When funding is available, the Conservancy is able to pay landowners up to 75% of the value of restricting their land with a conservation easement. This transaction is referred to as the purchase of development rights (PDR). The Conservancy purchases the development rights to these ecologically or agriculturally significant lands, conserving them in perpetuity. PDR uses multiple funding sources including matching gifts from landowners. Click here to learn more about conservation easements.
- Remain private land and stay on the tax rolls
- Can be either donated or the developments rights purchased (with funding programs)
- Must meet IRS tax deduction for donated value (full or partial donation)
- Must meet IRS Conservation Purposes test and Leelanau Conservancy’s land protection project acceptance criteria
On occasion, landowners may present land to the Conservancy to own or manage as a protected Natural Area, Preserve or Forest Reserve. The Conservancy may also partner with local units of governments (LUG’s) to buy lands with particular ecological importance or other public benefit often with help from both federal and state grants along with fundraising from dedicated supporters. One of the programs we use to partner with local units of government (example Clay Cliffs Natural Area or DeYoung Natural Area) is the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) through the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
Natural Areas, Forest Reserves, and Preserves:
- Are open to the public with posted conservation-minded uses
- Are typically purchased lands, but they are occasionally donated
- Can be bargain sale acquisitions (part donation/part sale) with private funding
- Provide significant public benefit (water quality, wildlife habitat protection, educational opportunities, and outdoor recreation).
- Meets Leelanau Conservancy’s land protection acceptance criteria
When a parcel of land meets our land protection criteria, the Conservancy may consider purchasing it, restricting it with a conservation easement, and then selling it to a willing buyer. We also work with conservation easement landowners who wish to sell their property through our Conservation Buyer Program. With these kinds of projects, the Leelanau Conservancy can:
- Temporarily hold option or title until a local unit of government can purchase it
- Assist landowner with management
- Buy, conserve and resell the land protected with a conservation easement.
Record Eagle Editorial: Conservation easements protect our heritage–December 2019