Land Preservation Tools

What are land protection agreements?

Land protection agreements, also known as conservation easements, are voluntary, private agreements between a landowner and a qualified organization like the Wolf River Conservancy. They are carefully crafted to help achieve a landowner’s vision for conserving the agricultural, wildlife, and scenic resources on their property. Each is customized to the landowner’s goals and will protect his or her property from inappropriate future development. Land protection agreements run with title to the land and last in perpetuity.

How can I conserve my land?

Wolf RiverConservancy can help you explore options for conservation of your property. We will work with you to design a conservation plan that will work best for you, your family, and the special resources on your land.

Does my land qualify for a land protection agreement?

Wolf River Conservancy helps to protect lands within the Wolf River watershed, especially its 100-year floodplain in Shelby and Fayette counties in Tennessee. We evaluate whether we can accept a land protection agreement based on a project’s conservation values such as agricultural productivity, wildlife habitat, scenic open space, and connectivity with other conserved lands. Our volunteer board of directors approves every conservation project. Most land protection agreements are at least partly donated, and this may qualify the landowner for federal tax benefits.  In order to be a qualified conservation contribution under the federal laws, it must meet several regulations, including that it be perpetual, be granted to a qualified organization (like WRC), and protect relatively natural wildlife habitat or scenic open space that provides public benefit (including farmland and forest land). Some land protection agreements also allow public access for recreation or protect historic structures.

Why do landowners choose to place a land protection agreement on their land?

Creating a land protection agreement is both a personal decision and a financial one. Landowners choose to place a land protection agreement on their land for the peace of mind in knowing it will be forever conserved. There are also financial incentives. Federal income tax benefits often apply to gifts of land protection agreements (conservation easements). WRC will work with landowners and their appraisers, tax advisors, and attorneys to craft a conservation strategy that will work best for them and their land.

What are the tax benefits?

Donation of a land protection agreement that meets federal requirements is treated as a charitable gift and can provide a landowner with income and estate tax savings.

What kinds of restrictions does a land protection agreement place on the land?

Each land protection agreement is unique and the Wolf River Conservancy will work with you to explore the options for your property. Easements are voluntary, with terms agreed to by both the landowner and the Conservancy.  For the most part, a land protection agreement limits the number of times you can subdivide your property and the number, location, and extent of future residential structures. Traditional uses of the land, such as farming and hunting are generally not restricted.

What happens once the land is in a land protection agreement?

Once a land protection agreement is in place, the Wolf River Conservancy works with the private landowner to ensure that the agreement’s goals are upheld. We will contact the landowner once a year to monitor the agreement and are always available as a resource to landowners, but we do not get involved in day-to-day decisions about land management or agricultural practices.

If my land is in a land protection agreement, can I sell it or pass it on to my heirs?

Yes. Since land protection agreements are perpetual and run with title to the land, any future landowners will be subject to the terms of the agreement as delineated by the original donor.

Does a land protection agreement affect property taxes?

No. By Tennessee statute, land protection agreements do not affect property taxes. The private landowner is still responsible for paying property taxes.

Do land protection agreements make land available to public access?

No. Land protection agreements are private agreements between a landowner and the Wolf River Conservancy. They do not make the land available for public recreation, nor does such an agreement prohibit access. Permission for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other forms of recreation require permission from the landowner, as on any other privately owned land. The Wolf River Conservancy cannot give out the contact information for its land protection agreement landowners.