Decisions landowners make about their land have a long-lasting effect on the Massachusetts that future generations will inherit, and on the wildlife that share this landscape with us. Not only will conserved land benefit people and wildlife, it also offers the landowners tax advantages.
There are many ways to permanently protect your land, including donating, selling, or applying a conservation restriction.
By donating or selling your land to Mass Audubon, your property will benefit wildlife and people. Conveying your land outright may be the simplest and best way to conserve it. Your gift or sale of land to Mass Audubon will help connect people with nature while freeing you of all responsibilities of ownership and management, including property taxes.
Landowners who donate or charitably discount the sale of their land for conservation can typically take advantage of several tax benefits, including reductions in federal income tax and reductions in estate tax, to name a few.
Conservation restrictions (CRs), also known as conservation easements, are legally binding agreements that permanently protect certain conservation values of a property while allowing the land to remain in private ownership.
They are conveyed to a non-profit conservation organization or public conservation entity, which accepts the right and responsibility to monitor the property and defend and enforce the terms of the CR in perpetuity. CRs are placed on record at the Registry of Deeds and run with the land, meaning that they apply to all future owners of the property.
CRs are a flexible tool, able to be customized to protect specific aspects of a given property, or to address particular needs of the owner. They usually involve the permanent extinguishment of some, but not necessarily all, of the development potential of the land, and can be gifted or sold. Properly crafted, CRs can generate significant tax benefits in the form of income tax deductions and estate or property tax reductions.
Mass Audubon's land conservation efforts have resulted in a system of wildlife sanctuaries that is now the largest private ownership of conserved land in Massachusetts. Since our beginning in 1896 we have come to own and conserve more than 32,000 acres of land and protect nearly 6,000 additional acres through conservation restrictions. The land we own or manage has come to us thanks to the conservation ethics and generosity of many landowners.