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LAND CONSERVATION

View a panel discussion about local open space bonds

Conservation is at the heart of what we do.

The purpose of Utah Open Lands is to permanently protect land in Utah, by acquiring title or trust of a conservation easement; stewardship of these properties, in order to protect the conservation values, and inspiring and educating landowners, local and statewide leaders, professional advisers and the public about the importance of land conservation.

Protecting today - ensuring tomorrow

We've been saving land for over 30 years. Safeguarding the beauty of open space in Utah was and remains the motivation for Utah Open Lands’ creation and continuing existence.  As land for farming, ranching, recreating, educating and inspiring diminishes across America at a rate of an amount that equals almost 6,000 acres a day, the need for advocates for open space is crucial.

F.A.Q. Land Conservation

 F . A . Q.

WHY WOULD A LANDOWNER DONATE A CONSERVATION EASEMENT?
Most if not all of the lands donated by landowners were donated because of the owner’s love of the land.  These are lands that have sometimes been in a family for generations, lands that mean more to families than money.  When donated to a qualified public charity like Utah Open Lands, conservation easements constitute a charitable donation and consequently have favorable tax benefits for the landowner making the gift. These tax benefits range from income tax deductions to estate tax benefits. In some instances, the benefits are so great that the value of donating a conservation easement can match the value of developing the property.  Typically, however, the reason for donating a conservation easement is the landowning family’s love of the land, not the associated tax advantages.  Learn more about tax incentives.

WHAT IS A LAND TRUST?
Utah Open Lands (UOL) is a land trust, one of roughly 1,200 land trusts throughout the nation. A land trust, like UOL, is a non-profit, tax-exempt, public charity identified under a special section of the Internal Revenue Service Code which allows the organization to hold conservation easements. As a land trust, Utah Open Lands assists landowners in the voluntary preservation of their land, protecting its scenic, wildlife, historic, agricultural, and/or recreational values. Utah Open Lands is a non-governmental, non-political, community based organization which utilizes educational outreach, donations of land and conservation easements, acquisitions of land and easements, and conservation buyers and investors to accomplish its goals of tangible land protection. By preserving open spaces, Utah Open Lands aids communities, investors, and government leaders interested in protecting Utah’s quality lifestyle.

WHAT IS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT?
A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement entered into voluntarily and mutually between a landowner and UOL, protecting the land from some or all future development in perpetuity. Utah law provides landowners with a choice of easements based on the conservation resources in need of protection on the property. The forms of conservation easements include: agricultural, historic, ecological, recreational, or scenic. A conservation easement may be purchased by a conservation organization at its full fair market value, purchased at a fraction of its fair market value, or donated by the landowner to a conservation organization.

DOES A CONSERVATION EASEMENT INFRINGE ON PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS?
Actually a conservation easement enhances private property rights as it allows families a choice when faced with development pressures which could force the sale of the property. The right of a landowner to preserve their land is equally valid as the right to develop it. Again, an easement is a voluntary agreement entered into mutually, which allows for a landowner to continue owning the land, living on the land, working the land, passing it on to the next generation or selling it to a conservation-minded buyer.

IS A CONSERVATION EASEMENT BINDING ON SUCCESSORS?
Yes, the conservation easement is binding on successive owners, but it does not infringe on personal property rights more than any other significant deed restriction would. A conservation easement is evident on the plat. It restricts future uses while maintaining current uses forever so the status of what the successive owner is either inheriting or buying should be clear.

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