What Is a Land Trust?
A way to save land
A “land trust” is an organization that works cooperatively with landowners to help conserve and protect lands because of their natural, scenic, open space, wildlife, historic, recreational, cultural, and/or agricultural values. The mission of land trusts is simple – to perpetually preserve lands that are important to the people, communities, and regions where they operate.
Will Rogers said it best: “Land…they ain’t making any more of the stuff.”
From Roman times onward
Land trusts (also called land conservancies, foundations, and associations) date back to Roman times and have operated in the US since the 1800s. Only a few score existed before 1970, but since then there has been a dramatic expansion. As thousands of square miles of open space are lost every year to development, the public has turned to land trusts to conserve valuable lands through cooperation, without using government regulation.
Land trusts today
Now there are nearly 1,700 land trusts in the USA, operating in every state to protect lands of local, regional, and national importance. They range from the very large national and international ones (like The Nature Conservancy) to the very small (like those protecting an inner-city neighborhood garden).
Most land trusts – like the Clear Creek Land Conservancy – are nonprofit, nongovernmental, charitable groups run by boards of volunteers with expertise to offer, sometimes with the assistance of paid staff.
Typically, land trusts focus on distinct political or geographic areas (like a city, county, state, or multi-state area – or a river corridor, sea coast, forest, or farm and ranch area). The Clear Creek Land Conservancy protects the Clear Creek Canyon and watershed from the Foothills to the Continental Divide in Jefferson, Clear Creek, and Gilpin Counties. Clear Creek with its towering walls, roaring river, and natural beauty is viewed by experts as “the geologic equivalent of the Royal Gorge or Black Canyon of the Gunnison.” Yet it is on metro Denver’s doorstep, accessible to all.
Is CCLC an “approved” land trust?
Proud to be! The State of Colorado now reviews the credentials, operations, and accomplishments of land trusts in Colorado and certifies those that meet their rigorous standards. We are proud that Clear Creek Land Conservancy was fully approved by the State in the very first round of certifications on January 1st, 2010. We hold License Number CE0020 issued from the State of Colorado Conservation Easement Oversight Program. The license certifies that Clear Creek Land Conservancy “has met the qualifications to hold conservation easements for which a state tax credit is claimed.” CCLC is officially recognized as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, which makes us a tax-exempt, tax-deductible entity.
Land trusts spell “success”
Land trusts really work. To date they have protected nearly 12,000,000 acres of America. Colorado’s 40 local, regional, and national land trusts and 14 state and local government open space agencies have saved over 1,600,000 acres of special areas in our state alone.
The value of a “local” land trust
Working with a local land trust, like CCLC, is a good choice. Your local land trust knows the local community and local government, is close to and cares about your property, can be quickly responsive, and has you dealing with your friends and neighbors. Clear Creek Land Conservancy’s volunteers and staff include lawyers, scientists, land managers, wildlife experts, and community leaders – all experienced with land trust work and conservation easements and eager to provide their advice and services for little or no cost.
Where do land trusts get their operating money?
From you. Land trusts are registered charities under Colorado and Federal law. They are supported by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Nationwide, some 1,000,000 people are financial supporters of land trusts, and 50,000 are active volunteers. The donations to land trusts are tax deductible just like any other charity.
A Landowner’s Guide
A publication of the Conservation Resource Center’s Tax Credit Exchange Program
Preserving your land for future generations
A publication of Isaacson Rosenbaum P.C.
A Guide to Colorado products and services from conserved lands
A publication of Tax Credit Connection
Colorado Department of Revenue FAQ on Conservation Easements .
This website has many publications on conservation easement income tax credits including FYI 39, a fact sheet on Colorado conservation easement income tax credits.
IRS Guidance on New Federal Tax Incentives
The IRS has published a 12-page document giving guidance on how to use the new federal tax benefits that were enacted in August 2006. It includes information on the qualified farmer or rancher special deduction rate as well as other guidance.
Please see Partners In Preservation for more helpful links.