Conservation Easement

A conservation easement is a permanent legal agreement made between a landowner and a “land trust” (such as the JDCF) that permanently protects the natural, scenic, agricultural, and/or historic qualities of a piece of property. Conservation easements benefit the JDCF by helping us fulfill our mission of preserving land without actually buying property outright. The landowner continues to own the land and retains the ability to sell or transfer ownership of the land as he or she pleases. The JDCF “holds” the conservation easement and is responsible for making sure that the restrictions contained in the conservation easement are being upheld. This is done by maintaining good working relationships with the landowners and visiting the property at least once per year. A conservation easement benefits the landowner by providing him or her financial incentives. If a landowner donates a conservation easement to the JDCF, he or she is eligible for a tax deduction, the amount of which is equal to the appraised value of the conservation easement (usually anywhere from 15-50% of the property’s total appraised value). For example, if the appraised value of a property is $500,000 and the value of the conservation easement is appraised at 20% of the property’s total value, the landowner is eligible for a tax deduction of $100,000. Donating a conservation easement can also reduce the landowner’s estate taxes and property taxes. Conservation easements can also provide landowners with peace of mind by knowing that their special places will be preserved after they die. It is important to note that conservation easements are permanent, meaning that all future landowners will also be bound by the terms of the agreement. Conservation easements are legally binding documents and are recorded at the courthouse with the deed to the property. Regarding the effects of conservation easements on property values, the effects can vary with place and time. Undoubtedly, a conservation easement lowers the value of the property that is being restricted (this is the basis of the tax deduction). However, evidence suggests that most conservation easements do not hinder a property’s resale ability. Also, many studies show that protected open space (such as conservation easements) can increase the property values of adjacent properties and the surrounding area (see Land Trust Alliance Fact Sheet, “The Economic and Tax-Base Benefits of Conservation”). For more information, contact Jim Johannsen at landprotection@nulljdcf.org.

Upcoming Events

The Prairie Enthusiasts 2017 Annual Conference

March 4

JDCF is co-hosting this annual, one-day conference with the Northwest Illinois Prairie Enthusiasts.  The theme will be Landscapes of the Future: Challenges & Opportunities. Two keynote speakers will be Jeff Walk of The Nature Conservancy, speaking on “Climate Change & Habitat Preservation & Restoration” and Bob Palmer of the Effigy Mounds National Monument, speaking on “Fertile Ground […] Read More

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Popcorn & Program: FIRE, the Science of Prairie Restoration Burns

March 18 @ 6:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Learn about the important role fire plays in the prairie ecosystem from our own Director of Land Stewardship, Ryan Getz. This “Popcorn & Program” is at the Galena Territory Association on Saturday, March 18 at 6:30 PM with the program beginning at 7:00 PM. As a follow up, all are welcome to come out in April […] Read More

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JDCF Annual Meeting

April 1 @ 4:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Join fellow JDCF members and our guest speaker, botanical artist, George Olson, at our annual meeting.  Mr. Olson will have some of his work on site.  We will also be honoring John & Barbara Rutherford as recipients of the 2017 Nancy Hamill Winter Conservation Leadership Award.

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Calling All Volunteers – River Clean Up

April 22 @ 8:00 am - 3:30 pm

The annual Mississippi River Clean Up will take place from 8 am until 3:30 pm at Gear’s Ferry Landing south of Galena. Individuals and families with older children are welcome.   This event is generously sponsored by Chestnut Mountain Resort. Boats and shovels are needed. Anyone who provides a boat for the day will be reimbursed […] Read More

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