How We Protect Land
Land trusts may protect land through direct involvement in land transactions, including purchase or donations of land
or of conservation easements. Some manage land owned by others. They may also work cooperatively with developers, government agencies and other nonprofit organizations in projects of protection or development of open space plans.
The Georgia Piedmont Land Trust (GPLT) partners with private land owners, municipalities and counties, and other non-profit organizations to cooperatively help them realize their long-term vision for the protection of their land. These lands benefit their communities by making them desirable places to live, work and play.
When GPLT puts a property under protection we are committing to protect the conservation values of the land in perpetuity. This means that we must visit each property annually to ensure that the conservation values have not been violated and corrective action is taken if and when necessary.
GPLT has a diverse portfolio of properties placed under protection via a fee simple donation or a conservation easement donation. These properties include:
- Historic battlefields in partnership with the American Battlefield Trust, Trust for Public Land and other historic preservation organizations.
- A green cemetery in partnership with the Monastery of the Holy Spirit.
- Watershed restoration properties.
- Conservation subdivision green spaces.
- Granite outcrops.
- Habitats, some with threatened species
- A community garden in partnership with the Wylde Center.
We evaluate each land protection opportunity individually to determine its unique conservation values and address the landowner's concerns and goals.
Conservation easements (CEs) are the most protective method for land owners to permanently limit uses of the land in order to protect its conservation value. It is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that is designed to preserve in perpetuity the conservation of the land consistent with the owner’s wishes.
A CE allows the landowner the ability to continue to own and use their land, while maintaining underlying ownership. For example, the CE may limit the ability to build additional structures on the property, but allow the growing of crops. Each conservation easement is uniquely structured to protect conservation values while maintaining property owner’s rights. The easement could apply to all or just part of a property, and need not require public access. Future owners will also be bound by the easement’s terms, and the land trust is responsible for making sure the easement’s terms are followed perpetually. This is managed through “stewardship” by the land trust.
The CE is a legal agreement that limits future development and use of the land to activities that are compatible with the land's long-term conservation or agriculture values. It may provide a landowner with financial benefits through federal income tax benefits if it benefits the public by permanently protecting important conservation resources and meets other federal tax code requirements. Since each situation is different we recommend the land owner consult with their financial professional to determine what benefits might be available in their case.
Fee Simple Land Donations
Sometimes we conserve land by owning it outright – what is called “fee simple ownership.” Landowners may donate the property with the title and all rights and interest to the Georgia Piedmont Land Trust. We then retain the land for conservation purposes and are responsible for managing it forever.
The land donation may qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation if it benefits the public by permanently protecting important conservation resources and meets other federal tax code requirements. Since each situation is different we recommend the land owner consult with their financial professional to determine what benefits might be available in their case.
Thank you to Hank Ohme, Suzy Downing, Dale Higdon
& Carol Hassell for all our spectacular pictures.