INTERESTED IN CONSERVATION EASEMENTS?
CCALT founder and Steamboat rancher Jay Fetcher said, “You shouldn’t even be considering a conservation easement unless two things have happened: 1) you’ve run the numbers and it makes financial sense for you and your family; and 2) you feel in your heart it’s the right thing to do.” This section of our site is designed to help landowners and their families decide if a conservation easement with CCALT is right for them.
Landowners who would like to conserve their land with CCALT must complete a project application, which provides CCALT staff and board of directors with the necessary information to begin the conservation easement process.
Hear from landowners who have conserved their land through an easement with CCALT. Learn more about their perspective on the process and what it has meant for their families and agricultural operations.
The Conservation Easement Process
Conveying a conservation easement can be a complicated process. The documents below will guide landowners through the process step-by-step in an easy to digest format.
Costs & Benefits of Conservation
Conservation offers landowners several tax incentives along with a number of financial and non-financial benefits. This document provides an overview of the costs and benefits of conservation easements.
Is My Land Eligible for a Conservation Easement?
CCALT considers two sets of criteria to determine if a property qualifies for a conservation easement: 1) state and federal guidelines; and, 2) CCALT’s own internal guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Over the past two decades, CCALT has compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions related to conservation easements.
Conservation Easement packet
CCALT has assembled the necessary information to guide landowners through the process of determining if conservation is a viable option for their land and their family. This packet includes information related to the costs and benefits of conservation easements, a step-by-step guide to completing a conservation easement, and a number of other resources.
Myths & Facts
CCALT’s mission is to serve as a resource for landowners who voluntarily choose to conserve their farm or ranch. Our landowners are typically motivated by a love of the land, a desire to see it stay in agriculture, a wish to maintain open spaces and native wildlife habitats, and a strong will to pass their legacy on to future generations.
Conservation easements aren’t for everyone or for every piece of property. But for those who are interested, this section addresses some of the common myths surrounding conservation easements so landowners can make a more informed decision about what is right for their land and their families.
MYTH: “The land trust basically becomes your landlord, controlling all that you do on your own land.”
FACT: Landowners retain the title to their property, along with the right to sell, lease, borrow against, bequeath and manage their land. By placing restrictions on usage and development, a landowner is voluntarily giving up a portion of their rights, but CCALT does not control all that you do on the land. The landowner and CCALT negotiate the terms of the easement together, and each easement is tailored to the unique character of the land and each landowner’s individual goals and values. Anyone considering a conservation easement should hire experienced legal counsel and should not sign an easement that does not meet the needs and desires of their family.
MYTH: “Conservation easements require public access.”
FACT: Public access is not a requirement for conveying a conservation easement.
MYTH: “It is impossible to sell property with a conservation easement on it.”
FACT: Conservation easements do not prohibit you from selling your property; but, the conservation easement may make the process of selling a bit more difficult as any buyer will have to be comfortable with the terms of the conservation easement. Typically, conservation easements sell for less than similar unencumbered properties; and, the presence of a conservation easement will typically extend the time it takes to market and sell a property.
MYTH: “Conservation easements prevent any appreciation in value.”
FACT: Land under easement continues to appreciate, but based on a reduced value. Once conveyed, a conservation easement may reduce the property’s value. The amount of the reduction depends on the restrictiveness of the conservation easement and the property’s characteristics and location.
MYTH: “Your land will likely end up in the hands of the federal government.”
FACT: The deed of conservation easement will spell out the terms by which a conservation easement can be transferred to another party. CCALT’s model deed of conservation easement strictly prohibits a transfer to a government entity without the explicit written consent of the landowner.
MYTH: “At any time, the Land Trust can transfer the conservation easement to a third party.”
FACT: The conservation easement deed spells out the terms for a transfer of an easement in the event that a land trust ceases to exist. The landowner should pay careful attention to the terms that are negotiated.
MYTH: “Oil and gas development is not compatible with conservation easements.”
FACT: In certain circumstances, conservation easements can accommodate oil and gas development. CCALT has worked with many landowners to accommodate limited and localized oil and gas development on their properties.
MYTH: “Banks won’t offer loans on land encumbered with a conservation easement.”
FACT: Because conservation easements reduce the value of the property, the size of a loan available for mortgaging a property may be reduced, but banks will continue to offer loans that are collateralized by property with a conservation easement.
NOTE 1: In general, after placing land in a conservation easement, you must collateralize the entire encumbered parcel.
NOTE 2: Placing a conservation easement on property that is currently mortgaged requires a subordination of the mortgage by the lender prior to conveyance of the conservation easement.
MYTH: “Conservation easements will prevent condemnation.”
FACT: Conservation easements cannot prevent condemnation, but it can make condemnation of your land much more difficult.
MYTH: “The IRS is going to audit me if I put an easement on my property.”
FACT: Although there is no way to predict the actions of the Internal Revenue Service, the vast majority of conservation easement transactions completed have not received undue scrutiny. As with any charitable donation, following the IRS regulations and the national Land Trust Alliance’s standards and practices will help support a landowner in defense of any potential IRS audit. Landowners should thoroughly investigate the land trust they intend to partner with and choose contractors that complete the due diligence requirements wisely.
RESOURCES FOR LANDOWNERS WITH EASEMENTS
Our primary objective is to provide the members of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) and other agricultural producers with a conservation option that understands working agricultural operations and agricultural families. CCALT takes great pride in being the only conservation organization in Colorado that focuses exclusively on agricultural lands managed by agricultural families.
This section of our site is designed to provide landowners whose property is protected with a CCALT-held easement with important information related to their partnership with CCALT.
Additive Conservation Program
In December 2020, CCALT launched the Additive Conservation Program. CCALT understands it is critical to support landowners and communities in the maintenance, restoration, and enhancement of working lands and the natural resources they possess. The program will enable CCALT to work with and support landowners who have already conserved their properties to implement projects that support long-term stewardship goals and conservation values. These projects will have multifaceted objectives that support both operational and ecological needs. Example projects may include: fire mitigation, river restoration, habitat enhancement, grassland improvement, and water infrastructure upgrades. The program is also developing opportunities for working landowners to access ecosystem service markets. Such markets can increase and diversify revenue streams for landowners interested in conservation, and adequately incentivize management practices that support a property’s conservation values. Examples include the development of carbon offset credits and the establishment of wetland mitigation banks.
Please reach out if you have a project that would be a good fit for the Additive Conservation Program.