Why Protect Land?

Open, natural spaces benefit us all – protecting our air and water, preserving habitat for wildlife, and providing wholesome venues for recreation and a balm for the spirit in our beautiful vistas and byways.  Maintaining a healthy balance between nature and development can bring a better quality of life and higher property values.

This public benefit of preserving land has been recognized by our federal and state governments, which have enacted policies to encourage and compensate landowners willing to set-aside property in perpetuity for conservation purposes.  Those that meet program requirements are eligible for:

  • Federal income tax charitable contribution deduction (which may be carried forward for up to 15 years),
  • Federal Estate tax reduction and exclusion,
  • Virginia State Tax Credit (which may be carried forward for up to 10 years, and any unused portion of which may be sold on the open market), and
  • Local Real Estate Tax Reduction

The following laws and regulations spell out the specifics of not only the tax benefits, but the requirements for participation in these programs, including what types of property are eligible, what actions are necessary to establish and maintain conservation, and how to value the resulting “contribution” made by foregoing development potential.

  • US Internal Revenue Code section 170(h)
  • US Treasury Regulations section 1.170A-14
  • VA Code section 10.1-1700 et seq (Open Space Land Act)
  • VA Code section 10.1-1009 et seq (Conservation Easement Act)
  • VA Code section 58.1-510 —58.1-513 (Virginia Land Conservation Incentives Act)