Costs Associated with Land Protection
The Squam Lakes Conservation Society (SLCS) is a land preservation and conservation organization dedicated to the protection of the natural environment for the benefit of all present and future residents and visitors to the Squam Lakes watershed. It achieves the long-term protection of land by seeking, holding, and monitoring conservation easements and by accepting land ownership. SLCS is a charitable, 501(c)(3), organization offering our land-planning services at no cost to prospective donors.
A conservation easement, or donation of conservation land, is a complex legal transaction that requires professional expertise to ensure that the land remains undeveloped in the future. While we try to keep the costs to the land owner to a minimum, there are certain professional services that you will need for your own protection, and for the preparation of documentation regarding the easement. These are listed below:
- It is recommended that donors obtain independent legal and financial counsel to review all documents and ensure that their interests are being met.
- A property survey by a licensed surveyor is needed in most instances.
- IRS regulations require that an independent appraiser establish the value of a charitable donation for a donor’s benefit. (IRC regulation 170h)
- In certain cases a title search is required to clarify the pertinent information on the deed.
- A contribution to the SLCS Stewardship Endowment Fund is requested for conservation easements and gifts of land. This fund is invested as a constituent endowment fund with the ongoing interest supporting the annual monitoring of the respective property, and the potential legal defense of the conservation easement. Please refer to the “Stewardship Policy” for details.
- While SLCS staff typically prepares a Baseline Documentation Report at no charge to donors, complicated ones such as for Campstead Preservation easements may have fees.
- Soils (percolation) test by a certified septic system designer or a licensed engineer may be needed for properties involved in limited development.
SLCS has been conserving land in the Squam watershed for more than 50 years. Our experienced staff will ensure that your easement transaction is handled professionally. We will advise you concerning the best way to structure your easement and will prepare a draft agreement tailored to your particular needs. In addition, our staff will prepare a Baseline Document Report which details the condition of the easement property. Once the easement is recorded we will perform annual monitoring duties to ensure that all terms of the conservation easement are being met, and will provide legal defense if any provisions of the easement are challenged at any time in the future.
Donations of land, conservation easements, and Stewardship Endowment Funds may qualify as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes. The value of the conservation easement is determined by a specialized appraisal from a qualified appraiser. Please consult with your tax advisor since the IRS rules concerning these deductions have changed recently. Thank you for considering placing your land in conservation. We are pleased to help in every way we can and look forward to our partnership with you.