Conservation Agreements

conservation agreements

Learn the basics of protecting your land in our beginner-friendly brochure (PDF).

Whether your land is a working farm or home to natural habitats, a conservation agreement is a tool to help you protect and conserve what is special about your land today and for tomorrow’s generations.

Southern Michigan is blessed with beautiful natural areas, rich productive soil, and deep historical roots. The ultimate story of undeveloped and unprotected land is yet to be written. Through careful planning and prudent protection, we can ensure that what is precious and unique in our community is never lost. Productive family farms, stretches of wild land, and stunning scenic highways all contribute to a healthy local economy. Land that is conserved, not paved or developed, contributes to cleaner air, cleaner water, and healthier soil.

Please contact our land protection staff with your questions. Call Robin Burke at 734-302-5263 or send us an email.

A conservation agreement is an extension of the care you’ve given your land.

People just like you have cared for the land for generations:  worked the soil so it would remain productive, harvested the trees carefully to allow for future growth, made sure the creek was allowed to run free. When you protect your land with Legacy Land Conservancy, you take the next step and protect the land you love forever.

If you want to protect the natural qualities of your land by restricting development, and want to continue to own your land, you can enter into a conservation agreement with Legacy Land Conservancy.  You will be enlisting a willing partner to help watch over your land – even after you’re gone, no matter who owns it.

A conservation agreement is permanent.

A conservation agreement is a voluntary agreement that defines the use of land – forever. Conservation agreements limit the type and amount of development on a property, and often restrict other uses that would damage natural features. When you enter into a conservation agreement with Legacy Land Conservancy, you agree to give up certain rights to your land. Voluntarily giving up these rights means neither you nor any person or organization can use those rights in the future.

The legal document that describes this agreement is called a conservation easement. The document will be signed by you (the landowner) and Legacy and then recorded with the County Register of Deeds. Restrictions of the easement apply to you and all future owners of the land. Both you and Legacy will act to ensure the terms of the easement are met. You accept the responsibility to follow the terms of the conservation agreement, while Legacy accepts the responsibility of enforcing the terms of the agreement, now and through all generations of future landowners.

A land protection agreement is more than just a legal document. It is a solemn promise to defend the land you cherish for all time.

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A conservation agreement is tailored to you and your land.

What natural features make your land unique? Is your land a working farm? What activities do you want to allow on your land? What do you want to make sure can never happen on your land?

Legacy’s land protection staff will talk with you about these and many more questions while we develop your conservation agreement together. It is important that a conservation agreement is tailored to each landowner and property.  We work hard to ensure the agreement suits your needs and desires while giving significant protection to important natural features.

A conservation agreement may provide you with some financial benefit.

A conservation agreement can have significant federal, state, and local tax advantages for landowners and their families. In some instances, the income tax, property tax, and/or estate tax savings involved can make the difference between keeping a family farm and losing it forever.

If you do not receive financial compensation for your conservation agreement, or take a bargain sale, you are eligible for a federal income tax deduction. If your protected property is bought or inherited, the state property tax is not recalculated with the new owner as it would be otherwise. In some instances your property taxes may be reduced, due to the change in property values associated with your conservation agreement.

Though only a tax professional can provide advice on how these financial benefits might apply to you and your land, Legacy’s land protection staff can talk with you about how these benefits work.

What is the conservation agreement process like?

The process of protecting your land, at its core, is the negotiation of a legal agreement, but there’s much more involved. The conservation agreement process can take four to six months, but it usually takes longer than that. Please click here to view or print detailed information about the conservation agreement process. Don’t hesitate to contact Legacy’s land protection staff with your questions.

Is a conservation agreement right for me?

We can talk with you about whether your land is a good candidate for a conservation agreement. The natural features of your land and your vision for its future are the keys to determining whether a conservation agreement is the right tool for you. To start a conversation with us about your land, please call Robin Burke at 734-302-5263 or email Legacy’s land protection staff.