The following is a list of options which property owners might consider for land conservation:
Gift of Conservation Restrictions
Landowner maintains ownership and use of the land. Conservation restrictions delineate specific prohibited and permitted uses of the property. Permitted uses usually include agriculture, forestry, recreation, other open space uses; prohibited uses typically include industrial, commercial, and residential development. Restrictions may cover all or part of the property. Income tax deductions are usually a part of this arrangement.
Gift in Fee Simple (Donations of Land)
The property is given to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy which may sell the property while retaining conservation restrictions or may retain ownership and lease the land with conservation restrictions to a private party, such as a farmer. The donor is entitled to an income tax deduction for the value of the property.
Donation of Undivided Interest
By donating an undivided percentage interest in the property to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, the landowner creates a shared tenancy over a period of time. At some point the landowner and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will separate their interests into ownership and conservation restrictions.
Gifts of a Remainder Interest
Some landowners donate land to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, while retaining a life estate for themselves, their families, and sometimes their farm employees. This can result in a significant tax reduction.
Sale of Development Rights
The sale of development rights to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is the equivalent to placing a conservation easement on the property which restricts the use of land to primarily agricultural and conservation use. The value or sale price of development rights is the difference between the land's fair market value for development and its value for agricultural and conservation purposes. The landowner retains title to the land, while the right to develop all or part of the land in the future has been removed.
Sale of Land
The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy will occasionally purchase outright a piece of land that is very important to the local community or region and is being threatened with sale and development. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy then transfers the land (often to public agencies or private ownership) while retaining conservation restrictions or other agreements on the lands where conservation is most important.
Eastern Massasauga Habitat Protection Options
In Pennsylvania, Massasaugas are endangered and their critical habitat is often found on private lands. Therefore, private landowners can play a key role in the conservation of this habitat and the Massasauga that desperately need it. There are a number of opportunities for landowners who are interested in helping this native endangered reptile.
Learn more here.