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At POST, we understand that every property and the needs of every landowner are unique. With conservation easements, POST can offer a highly customized tool to help you realize multiple financial benefits while ensuring that the natural character of your land remains preserved forever. A conservation easement with POST allows you to:
Are you a property owner curious about conservation easements and how they work? Are you land rich and cash poor and looking for a way to liquidate part of your assets? Perhaps you would like to leave land in your will to a loved one but know estate taxes could make your gift a burden. Maybe you’re in the market for rural property already protected by a conservation easement, or you’re a farmer trying to keep land affordable so you can sustain your livelihood. Whatever your situation, a conservation easement may help you afford to keep property in the family while providing valuable tax benefits and ensuring that your land stays protected forever.
POST established its first conservation easement in 1983 and has since developed a great deal of experience in negotiating and drafting conservation easement agreements. Properties protected through POST easements range in size from a couple of acres to more than 2,000 acres, including everything from coastal frontage to redwood forests to farmland. POST carefully selects properties we protect by easement. The land must have certain conservation characteristics, such as the need for protection from inappropriate development, the presence of important natural habitat, potential or actual agriculture uses, scenic qualities or potential for public recreation. By securing these greater conservation values, easements deliver personal benefits to landowners as well as public benefits to the surrounding community.
Without a conservation easement, which removed some development rights to the land, the purchase price would have been out of John’s reach. “Having an easement on the land doesn’t limit my farming ability at all, but it served to bring the value of the land down to a more competitive price to make ends meet,” he says. His agreement with POST keeps these historic agricultural fields in the hands of a local farming family and protects the land from rising development pressures, all while preserving a popular expanse of breathtaking open space along the coast.
According to John, stability is key for farmers. “Before the easement, my father was always looking around for other properties because he always felt like we could be out on a moment’s notice,” says John. “It’s hard to put in the infrastructure you need on a farm or fix up the barns if you think you’re going to be a short-timer. Owning the land I cultivate has given me a sense of stability my father didn’t have until late in life.”
A few years later, Greg approached POST, knowing the organization had protected properties nearby, to ask how it might safeguard their land. “I had heard of conservation easements before and have friends with ranches in Montana, but I truly came to understand them after my discussions with POST Director of Land Stewardship Paul Ringgold and Conservation Director Marc Landgraf,” says Greg. “I wanted to maintain ownership of my property, yet I shared POST’s conservation vision for the land. Working with POST allowed me to honor both.”
In 2004, Greg and Amanda made a bargain sale to POST of an easement over the ranch, along with a pledge to donate a public trail corridor. POST paid $1 million for the easement, which was well below market value. With the sale, the Joneses were able to realize both cash and tax benefits while permanently protecting their land. The easement protects the scenic and natural values of Redgate Ranch. Without it, at least four estate houses could have been built on the land. An additional trail easement preserves wildlife habitat and provides a link for future public recreation through the stunning San Gregorio Valley.
To learn more about protecting a property by POST conservation easement or to inquire about purchasing a property with a POST-held easement, please contact our Noelle Thurlow, Director Land Transactions nthurlow [at] openspacetrust.org.
We look forward to hearing from you!