You can protect your land from development while continuing to own it, farm it and enjoy it, by donating, and in some cases selling, a deed of conservation easement to the Catoctin Land Trust.

By placing a conservation easement on your land you put permanent restrictions on the future use of the land, regardless of who may own it in the future. You may sell your property, leave it to your family or others in your will and rest assured that your protective wishes will endure. You can also donate a conservation easement in your will to assist with your estate planning. No two conservation Easements are exactly the same. They are tailored to the wishes of the land owner and the specific needs of the property.

Conservation easements typically prohibit the following land uses:

  • subdivision, residential and commercial development;
  • mineral extraction (gravel pits and quarries);
  • abusive logging practices;
  • road building and other uses, such as billboard and tower construction.

Landowner benefits:

  • Federal income tax deductions for the appraised value of the easement.
  • Property tax abatement for 15 years if MET co-holds the easement.
  • Maryland state income tax benefits if MET co-holds the easement.
  • Possible reduction of estate taxes.
  • Knowledge that your land will be managed forever according to your wishes.
  • For more information on tax benefits, click here.

From time to time funding becomes available through a variety of state and local agencies for conservation easement purchases and stewardship.

If your are interested in learning more about conservation easement options with the Catoctin Land Trust, please contact a trust representative.

Conservation Options

Besides a conservation easement, there are a variety of other ways to see your lands protected, including several ways to donate your land and arranging a bargain sale of your properties.

Donate Your Land

Many landowners find that donating their land, or a portion of their land, to a land trust for permanent protection is the best solution in protecting it forever. In the donation process you can insist that permanent deed restrictions are put in place as an extra measure of protection. The receiving land trust will own and manage the land as conservation property and in most cases is immune from any property tax burdens.

If you donate your land to the Catoctin Land Trust you may qualify for significant income tax deductions for its appraised value, avoid capital gains taxes, and, in many cases, achieve significant estate tax savings. As with a conservation easement, no two land donation transactions are the same.

Benefits to the landowner:

  • Possible reduction of your estate taxes.
  • Relief from paying property taxes
  • Knowledge that your land will be managed forever according to your wishes.

Donating your Land with a Retained Life Estate

With this option, you can donate your property to the Catoctin Land Trust and continue to live on it for the remainder of your life. You can specify that other members of your family also retain the use of all or part of the land during your, or their, lifetimes. Donating your land with a retained life estate is a very good land protection option for individuals who have no heirs for their estate or are unable to handle the tax burdens associated with ownership.

A reserved life estate ensures that your property is protected in perpetuity while you are still alive. A portion of the property, such as a house and a small amount of acreage subject to a conservation easement with a size and restrictions specified in the agreement, with your approval, may be sold in the future by the trust to ensure adequate funds for stewardship. This is often the best option when there are buildings on the land or inadequate funds available for stewardship at the time of the agreement.

Benefits to the landowner:

  • You and your family can continue to live on your land.
  • Federal income and state tax deductions for the appraised value of the land you donate.
  • Relief from paying property tax.
  • Knowledge that your land will be managed forever according to your wishes.

Donating your Land in a Will

You can leave your land to the Catoctin Land Trust in your will. This option allows you to retain full use of the land during your lifetime but it ensures your land will be protected according to your wishes after you are gone. Discussing such a donation with a Trust representative prior to including that gift in your will allows you to create a plan with us as to how your land will be managed and cared for.
By donating land to the Trust in your will you will reduce the estate or inheritance taxes. You will however still be responsible for all property and income taxes during your lifetime.

Benefits to the landowner:

  • Continue to protect your land once you are gone.
  • Reduction of your estates taxes.

Bargain Sale of your Conservation Lands

From time to time funding becomes available thru a variety of state and local agencies for bargain sale purchases and stewardship of conservation lands in target areas, such as agricultural preservation districts and near culturally historical areas. The Trust monitors the availability of these funds closely for availability and works as a partner with state and local agencies in protecting lands.

By selling your property to the trust, or to the state or local government at below market value you may be eligible for a significant tax benefit. If your are interested in learning more about bargain sale of your land for conservation purposes, please