Many landowners cannot afford to make a gift of land or establish a conservation restriction, but would nonetheless love to see their property preserved forever. Although the Orleans Conservation Trust has limited funds available to purchase land, we do contribute funds or initiate capital campaigns for land acquisition in certain circumstances, as does the Town of Orleans—and it’s always worth contacting us for ideas.

Selling land into conservation enables the owner to take advantage of tax provisions enacted for this purpose. A sale for less than the property’s full fair market value compensates the landowner with a combination of cash and tax deductions, and makes the purchase more affordable for the conservation organization.

Sellers participating in such transactions are eligible for a federal income tax deduction reflecting the size of the discount, and sometimes for a Massachusetts state tax credit as well. The combination of tax deductions, reduced capital gains, and other considerations (such as precluding real estate commissions) can make a bargain sale surprisingly competitive with a sale at fair market value—particularly for owners of highly appreciated properties or those in high income-tax brackets.

Contact our Director if you’d like to inquire about this option: call (508) 255-0183 or email

With OCT’s help, neighbors on Tom’s Hollow Lane in South Orleans raised funds to purchase a lot containing most of this vernal pool to protect the land and habitat from development. The seller benefited from a tax deduction and was happy to see the land preserved.