What is a Land Trust?

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The Crested Butte Land Trust does wonderful things for our community and our environment. The mission of the Crested Butte Land Trust is to forever protect and steward open lands for vistas, recreation, wildlife, and ranching, thus contributing to the preservation of Gunnison County’s unique heritage and quality of life.

What is a Land Trust?

A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements. The mission of the Crested Butte Land Trust is to forever protect and manage open lands for vistas, recreation, wildlife and ranching, thus helping to preserve Gunnison County’s unique heritage and quality of life.

What does a land trust do?

Land trusts, organized as charitable organizations under federal tax laws, are directly involved in conserving land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical and productive values. Land trusts can purchase land for permanent protection, or they may use one of several other methods: accept donations of land, accept a bequest, or accept the donation of a conservation easement, which permanently limits the type and scope of development that can take place on the land. In some instances, land trusts also purchase conservation easements.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a written agreement between a landowner and a land trust that conserves land for its natural, recreational, scenic, historical and productive values. The landowner continues to own and manage the land, and can pass it on to their heirs, or may choose to sell it.

How long is the term of a conservation easement?

A conservation easement “runs with the land,” binding the original owner and all subsequent owners to the agreement’s restrictions in perpetuity. Only perpetual easements can qualify for income and estate tax benefits. The easements are recorded at the county records office.

What are the advantages of working with a land trust?

Land trusts are very closely tied to the communities in which they operate. They understand the concerns of the community and the needs of the diverse landowners. Local landscapes vary and have different requirements. The nonprofit status of land trusts brings a variety of tax benefits. Donations of land, conservation easements or money may qualify for income or gift tax savings. Land trusts are private organizations, and can be more flexible and creative in conservation options than the public agencies can in saving land.

What are the advantages of working with the Crested Butte Land Trust?

 The Crested Butte Land Trust has established relationships with local, state and national funders.
 The Crested Butte Land Trust is independently and nationally accredited, providing assurance of quality and permanence of land conservation.
 The Crested Butte Land Trust is flexible, and can tailor conservation agreements to meet the landowner’s needs.
 The Crested Butte Land Trust is not political, and adds value to the community by preserving and enhancing the quality of life of residents and visitors.
 The Crested Butte Land Trust offers many diverse tax incentives.
 The Crested Butte Land Trust staff is experienced at drafting easements and contracts and maintains policies and procedures that adhere to best practices.

How does a land trust work?

Land trusts work to implement three fundamentally American ideals:
 Volunteerism
 Community Spirit
 Connection to the Land

By holding land or conservation easements on land with high conservation value, land trusts counter the economic model of poorly planned development and sprawl. Land trusts communicate and demonstrate the powerful benefits of land on our lives and on the human spirit.

Are land trusts government agencies?

No, they are independent, entrepreneurial organizations that work with landowners who are interested in protecting their land. However, land trusts often cooperate with government agencies by acquiring or managing land, researching open space needs and priorities, or assisting in the development of open space plans.
This information courtesy of Ann Johnston, Executive Director, Crested Butte Land Trust at 970.349.1206.

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