Gifts of Land

“Making a land donation to the Orleans Conservation Trust was rewarding in many ways. Both my husband and I love nature, and the land we donated, which stretches out between our property and Snow Shore, is very dear to our hearts. We feel privileged to have been able to make sure it is preserved in the future, and can be enjoyed by anybody.”
—OCT member and land donor Barbara Eskin

Why Choose Conservation?

Landowners choose to protect their land for various reasons. Often, the chief motivation is a desire to conserve the special qualities of their land—perhaps its scenic beauty, vulnerable water resources, or valuable wildlife habitat. In addition, the process of considering conservation options can aid in estate planning. For some families, the estate tax advantages of conservation allow them to better provide for the next generation. And, as the national Land Trust Alliance notes, “Some feel that the ability to protect one’s land in perpetuity is the ultimate expression of property rights."

Tax Benefits and More

To begin the process, OCT must accept your generous donation of land prior to the transfer of ownership. Once deeded to OCT, your land is conserved and protected while you enjoy tax benefits in the form of federal income tax deductions, potentially reduced estate taxes, and relief from property taxes. In addition, you are relieved of management responsibilities and automatically absolved of liability associated with any trail use, while still having access to the land.

Typically the only cost to you, as the land donor, is a one-time appraisal to certify the value of the donated land for federal income tax deductions. (Appraisals are needed only when the claimed value of the deduction exceeds $5,000.) Donors generally are asked to pay the remainder of the annual property tax due on the land before it becomes tax-exempt in the next fiscal year.

Donations of land to OCT are received with deepest gratitude, and we welcome the opportunity to forge long-lasting relationships with landowners who entrust properties to us. To learn more about protecting your land by donating it to the Trust, call our Director at (508) 255-0183 or email oct@orleansconservationtrust.org.

Protect your land by entrusting it to OCT

The impact of a gift of land extends far beyond its legal definition: “a fee simple transfer to a nonprofit conservation organization or to a government agency.” It is the simplest way to protect your property forever. Donating your land to the Orleans Conservation Trust also launches the next chapter in the life and conservation of your natural resource, establishes an ongoing relationship with OCT, and guarantees wise stewardship of your acres in perpetuity. Of the hundreds of acres preserved by OCT, the large majority were donated.

Bequests of Land

For some people, giving land to OCT as part of their estate plan is the ideal choice. The Cullen family of East Orleans is one example; see the story below. Legacy gifts of land are similar to other “planned giving” donations—see the information here and, as always, be sure to consult with an estate-planning attorney.

The Cullen Family and OCT

In 2017, OCT was able to expand its first-ever land preserve in the Nauset Heights neighborhood of East Orleans, thanks to the generosity of the late John and Elizabeth Cullen. The story began in 1986 when the Cullens donated 1.85 acres of their family land on Oliver’s Way to the Trust. In subsequent years—both before and since their passing—they gifted several more acres to OCT. Then, in early summer of 2016, the last two acres of undeveloped land were offered to OCT by the Elizabeth Cullen Trust.

Deeply involved in neighborhood affairs, John and Elizabeth also cared about the natural qualities of their property. They enjoyed sharing the land with wildlife: Jack was always excited when the buffleheads returned to Mill Pond, and Betty loved the swans. Patty Cullen, their daughter, was instrumental in making sure their wishes for their land came to pass, saying, “My parents always hoped that all of their land on Oliver’s Way could be preserved.”