firewood.

Why we keep it. Land prices are down. We fell in love with it. We want to pass it on to our kids. We want our children to be able to afford to keep it. We want to hunt on it. We want to retire to it. Its value is going up faster than the stock market. They’re not making any more of it. We need to plant crops to feed my family. It’s been in our family for generations. We love the peace and quiet. The property is so unique. The timber isn’t worth anything now, but will be in the future. The timber pays for keeping the land.

Why should we place a conservation easement on that land? We don’t want to see it turn into a subdivision or develop it. It will give us a tax write-off if we donate the development rights to a land conservancy or other qualified organization. If we want to pass it on to our children, it will save them taxes every year by capping the property tax bill at its current level, or maybe even lower. We want to leave this place to our children. We want to leave a place for wildlife. We want a place for our kids to hunt.

One of the biggest problems facing hunters and wildlife in this country is the loss of habitat. Groups like the Nature Conservancy buy rare and unique habitats, and our State and Federal Forests own millions of acres of wildlife habitat. But in many cases, those owners cannot own all the critical pieces of habitat to provide homes for wildlife and to provide vital corridors for movement. Demand for and costs of government forests create conflicts between users. By donating a Conservation Easement, we assure that there will always be some undeveloped land for wildlife, and that our heirs will have a place to hunt.

One way to avoid some of these crises is to own your own land for your use for peace, solitude and outdoor recreation. To keep these costs down, we can manage our private forests for the benefit on timber or agricultural income, while simultaneously enhancing and preserving habitat for wildlife. We can plant natural species or food crops, thin and plant forest tree species, control hunting pressure and preserve or enhance the property for the next generation. We can plant food plots to draw in deer when baiting is illegal.

Owners of lands with Conservation Easements can expect to pay less in taxes, as can their children or anyone whom you or your heirs sell the land to. Instead of the “popup” taxes appearing for our heirs, the current tax levels can be capped at current levels. Your land can become a legacy of peace and quiet, a place to hunt, that your heirs can enjoy in perpetuity. And if you wish to sell it someday, it may eventually be worth more because of reduced carrying costs for subsequent owners, and because of the uniqueness of the land.

Your local land conservancy can answer your questions about costs and benefits and how to conserve your land into the future.

Check with your local extension office.

Kenowa Beards and Spurs Chapter - Spring 2009 Update
Traverse Bay Chapter - Spring 2009 Update