Photo by Nancie Battaglia

Why protect private farmland?

As a farmland owner, you know what it means to work the land, to grow and harvest crops, to raise cattle, to be a part of a community. Farmland and farming fuel the local economy, keep scenic views open, sustain livelihoods, and play an important role in our landscape.

Planning for the future of your farm

FOR MANY FARMLAND OWNERS, THE PRESSURES ARE REAL AND THE FUTURE IS UNCERTAIN. A farmland conservation easement can be a part of developing business, retirement, and transition plans. This tool may be able to help you carry forward your vision for your land.

Benefits of conserving farmland with easements, include the following:

AGRICULTURAL LEGACY | The landowner and community are reassured that the land will remain available for productive agricultural use, forever.

OWNERSHIP | The land stays as a working farm in private ownership.

COMMUNITY BENEFITS | Farms provide food for local restaurants and retailers, jobs for our neighbors, carbon sequestration in soils, and habitat for wildlife.

BUSINESS SUPPORT | Cash from selling an easement may help landowners with business development, equipment purchases, and transfer to the next generation.

TAX BENEFITS | Landowners may be eligible for tax benefits in relation to income, estate, or property taxes.

LEARN MORE | Check out our informational video series to learn more about farmland conservation options:

Our farmland protection track record

Farmland acres protected
Sites focused on agriculture
Million dollars worth of transactions
Dedicated farmland specialist on staff.

Frequently Asked Questions

To partner with the Adirondack Land Trust, your property must be within our service area (see map) and align with our mission and purpose as a nonprofit organization. If your property is not a good fit, we may be able to recommend other alternatives, so please contact us with questions if you are unsure.

  1. A landowner can sell or donate a conservation easement to the Adirondack Land Trust. A conservation easement is a partial interest in private land for permanent environmental protection. This option allows us to tailor the arrangement to a specific property.
  2. A landowner could sell or donate land to the Adirondack Land Trust for eventual transfer to a long-term owner and steward, such as New York State or another nonprofit or entity. This option involves cooperative partners from the beginning of the process.
  3. A landowner could sell or donate land to the Adirondack Land Trust that we would own and manage ourselves as a public nature preserve. This option must align with our strategic goals related to establishing nature preserves.

A conservation easement is an agreement between a private landowner and a land trust that limits use and development to protect ecological attributes that are important to both parties, such as water quality, forest health, wildlife habitat, productive soils. A conservation easement is recorded with your property’s deed and binds all current and future owners of the property to the agreed upon terms.

Yes, landowners who donate land outright to a land trust may be entitled to deduct the value of the contribution from their income, effectively lowering their federal taxes. A partial gift of land or a partial gift of a conservation easement also may entitle a landowner to a charitable tax deduction. Other tax benefits may be available depending on the details of how you convey or protect your land. 

The scenarios under which the Adirondack Land Trust may consider accepting donated land include the following:

  • A landowner donates land that the land trust, in turn, will transfer to a long-term owner and steward, such as the State of New York, or another nonprofit or entity. Donating to the land trust is often a quicker process than donating directly to other entities.
  • A landowner donates land that doesn’t have conservation value with the intent that the land trust will sell the property and use the proceeds to support its mission.
  • A landowner arranges for a land donation through their will. To ensure that the intent is clear, we encourage landowners who choose this route to work with our staff while they are in the process of making their estate plans.

Not necessarily. It depends on the details of your land protection agreement. The only time a landowner must provide public access is if public access is a condition of the agreement

Protected lands play an important role in sequestering carbon, supporting wildlife adaptation, water filtration and flood mitigation – all of which are crucial to climate resilience.

Conservation easement is the primary tool for farmland protection. Our goals include keeping farms intact and available for production as well as affordable for the next generation. Conservation easements on farmland may include a provision that requires subsequent sale prices of the farm be based on the agricultural value of the land rather than on the development potential. This additional restriction has a monetary value that can be included in the sale of a conservation easement or count toward a charitable contribution.

Yes, landowners with conservation easements in place can sell or bequeath their land subject to the terms of the easement and in accordance with state laws. If no options or rights of first refusal are in place, generally the only requirement for the landowner is to notify the land trust before selling or transferring the land and informing your realtor or family member of the restrictions in place.

If you protect your forest or farmland through a conservation easement, you may be required to have a management plan prepared by a forester or resource professional.

There are many variables that play a factor in the timing of conservation transactions. Generally, you can expect the process to take about one year to complete.

Getting Started

FIT | First, check to make sure that your land is within our service area. (See map.)

INFORMATION | Next, help us answer this question: “Why is it important to conserve this land?” Before contacting us, please be prepared to provide us with your property location, description of natural features, land use history, current land use, and an idea of what your conservation goals are.

CONSERVATION VALUES | Our conservation team will look at the land you are interested in conserving through various lenses to help us decide to move forward. Factors like zoning and other regulations, proximity to protected lands, ecosystem types, soils, and geology, as well as potential public benefits of conserving the land (clean water, viable farmland, recreational access), are considered.

OPTIONS | If it seems like a good fit, we will work with you to determine the best land protection tool to pursue and then begin a due diligence process that will include obtaining a professional appraisal, completing a title search, doing an environmental assessment.

LANDOWNER STORIES | Learn about conservation options and experiences from the perspective of landowners with whom we work.

Contact us

As an accredited land trust, the Adirondack Land Trust holds itself accountable to the highest national standards of excellence and conservation permanence. We work with hundreds of landowners every year and see firsthand how connections to land run deep. We also know that it can be overwhelming to consider long-term conservation options for your land. After reviewing the information on this page, please feel free to reach out to us with questions.