Posted by: Reena Ramos

  • 11/07/2019

Transferable lands: giving land to ACRES to sell

In our 60 year history, ACRES Land Trust has acquired 7,000 acres – and growing – to protect forever. In addition to acquiring protected land, ACRES also receives transferable lands from donors, property that is not protected, but rather meant to support our work as an investment.

So, we do sell land, occasionally. In six decades, ACRES has acquired only a few places that donors intend for ACRES to sell to help acquire and maintain places suitable for protection. But, the numbers are growing as donors learn how their land can benefit ACRES in this way.

Photo by Thomas Sprunger

How does it work?

ACRES Land Trust forever protects land in two categories: nature preserves, places where nature is given the space to thrive with minimal disturbance; and, protected lands, also known as working lands, or places with designated uses. 

For decades, land donors throughout the tristate area have entrusted our nonprofit to make good on our promise. ACRES will never sell or transfer our nature preserves or protected lands; our name will always be on the deed, ensuring their permanent protection. 

But we can also accept land in a third category, transferable property. ACRES’ transferable property category  allows donors to support our mission by giving land as an investment toward financial gain. This land is meant to be sold, transferred or otherwise used at our discretion to support our work. 

Why doesn’t ACRES deem all land suitable for permanent protection? Protecting land forever is a big commitment with much more to consider than meets the eye. Caring for the land, accessing it, reinforcing boundaries, paying local assessments and fees, being good neighbors – each acre ACRES protects sets off a chain of necessary action – in perpetuity. As stewards to land, we must carefully choose what we promise to protect forever. 

Homes in town are a good example of places ACRES chooses not to protect, but donors wish to give to help us raise funds for our work. Small, inaccessible lands also fit this category. Sometimes working land or even natural places fit, depending on the donor’s intent and our evaluation. 

Elkhart Bog is an example of a transferable land that helped a partner in conservation. The Indiana Division of Natural Resources could not purchase the property at auction, so ACRES used our revolving acquisition fund to purchase and hold it for them temporarily. When the DNR reimbursed our purchase, we transferred this property to them for protection.

ACRES purchased Elkhart Bog as a transferable property in support of the Indiana Division of Natural Resources. ACRES later transferred this land to the DNR as an addition to their property, once they reimbursed the cost.

Transferable lands aren’t always sold. Some may provide income for the organization as working land before ACRES chooses to sell it for income. And, when it makes sense, land can move from the transferable category to protected status, and eventually to preserved if it merits this investment. 

Do land donors receive benefits for donating land that ACRES can sell? Though tax situations vary, the same benefits apply to all land given to ACRES, regardless of the donor’s intent. As a nonprofit, all of our work goes to our mission. Each property, each acre comes together to protect natural places, forever.

In addition to transferable land, ACRES makes use of a variety of gifts to fund the protection of land: stock, gold, grain and Bitcoin, to name a few. If you have questions about how your investments could help ACRES grow, please contact Heather Barth at [email protected]