Conserving Your Land

Conserving Your Land
A conservation easement can keep this shoreline undeveloped forever. (Photo by Anne Beerits)

Many property owners would like to see their land preserved and protected from unforeseen development. Much-loved family land is also often high in conservation value: providing important habitat for flora and fauna, marine life, views, open space. Water quality and shore access are, of course, critical to the future of this island, too.

Land trusts like Island Heritage Trust were created to permanently protect such special places in accordance with the owner's wishes. Essentially serving as a community service provider, IHT can walk landowners through a variety of conservation scenarios tailored to match the owners' goals and wishes for the future of their property. The booklet Conservation Options: A Guide for Maine Landowners (46pp) is an excellent resource, detailing a number of methods to suit differing situations; many offer tax advantages, helping to reduce estate, income or property taxes.

The Basics:

Conservation Easement:
A legal document recorded at the Registry of Deeds that limits the type of development on your property. The land stays in private ownership, your heirs may keep it or sell it but its use remains as you wished. A land conservation organization like IHT is charged with upholding the restrictions in the easement in perpetuity. IHT presently holds 23 conservation easements on 803 acres.

You may donate your land outright or donate a conservation easement (see above). By either method you make a generous gift to future generations while benefiting from income and estate tax deductions. IHT currently owns 458 acres including all or part of 8 islands.

Selling Your Land:
You may sell your land, or sell the development rights, to a land conservation organization. Read in Conservation Options about the various methods: bargain sales, installment sales, etc.

Other conservation methods such as leases, deed restrictions, covenants, etc. could be considered, but do not necessarily ensure permanent protection.

If you would like an electronic (pdf) copy of Conservation Options - click here, if you have questions or would like a hardcopy please contact Mike Little at 207-348-2455 or

Island Heritage Trust
420 Sunset Road ~ Deer Isle, Maine
Mail: P.O. Box 42 / Deer Isle, ME 04627
Phone: 207-348-2455
FAX: 207-348-2455

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