One of the finest legacies one can leave for future generations is a protected woodland, wetland or naturally significant area or landmark. ACRES is the largest and oldest land trust in the region and has an unblemished record of adhering to donor intent. We never sell nature preserves, when a property is preserved through ACRES, the protection is permanent.
ACRES obtains properties through a variety of means. Regardless of whether a property is purchased or donated, it must meet ACRES' land acquisition criteria, some of which is listed below:
New Property for Preservation (Back to top)
- 20 acres in size or larger (unless it contains exceptional environmental quality).
- Preference given to properties with rare, endangered, or threatened species.
- Watershed protection of lakes, rivers, and streams given a priority.
- Possibility of other acquisitions in same area, can this property be expanded in the future?
- Property must be dominated by natural systems (forest, prairie, weltands, etc.) with minimal invasive species present.
Property Neighboring Existing Preserves (Back to top)
- No size criteria.
- Woods, wetlands, farm fields, or other undeveloped lands.
- If land is farm ground or disturbed fields, we plan for restoration to original habitat.
Other Property (Back to top)
Not all property is suitable for protection. ACRES will accept land or items of value which could be sold for funds to help purchase a property desirable as a nature preserve.
Methods of Designating Land for Preservation
Donating Outright (Back to top)
The property goes immediately into ownership by ACRES Inc.
Benefits: The preserve can be named in your honor, the value is deductible on income taxes and estate taxes, and it is free from capital gains taxes.
Donating by Bargain Sale (Back to top)
The property is sold at a discount to ACRES. This allows a landowner to preserve the land while also realizing a financial gain.
Benefits: Same as with outright donation, but it is the difference between the appraised value and selling price that is tax-deductible.
Donating a Remainder Interest (Reserved Life Estate) (Back to top)
In this arrangement, you donate or sell your property to ACRES, but continue to live on or otherwise use the property by retaining a reserved life estate. Upon your death, or sooner if you choose, ACRES gains full control of the property. Benefits: If the land is donated, the tax deduction is based on the fair market value of the property less the expected value of the reserved life estate.
Donating by Will (Bequest) (Back to top)
The property goes to ACRES Inc. after your death.
Benefits: The preserve can be named in your honor if so willed. While a will allows you to change your mind to donate, it also eliminates any tax benefits.
Conservation Easement (Back to top)
The owner agrees to permanently limit certain uses of their property such as harvesting timber, draining a wetland, subdividing the property, or adding buildings. The land must have undeveloped land (field or woodland) or a relatively natural wildlife habitat for ACRES to participate. The owner can sell or will the property as usual, but the limitations in the conservation easement continue forever under ACRES Inc.'s supervision.
Benefits: The difference of the appraised value of the land and the land's appraised value with the conservation easement is tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes, and estate taxes will be lower since land that cannot be developed would have a lower market value.
Note: The concept of conservations easement has not been thoroughly tested in the courts, so there is a potential for litigation in using this manner of contract.
Contact the ACRES office to further discuss these and other land protection options. Be sure to consult your legal and financial advisors to determine how the land protection options will impact your specific tax and / or estate circumstances.