Thinking it Through

By Anita O'Gara on January 3, 2018 in Landowner Stories

Spencer's Grove

Rich Zeis believes his land at Spencer's Grove is “the third prettiest place in Iowa,” and it’s easy to see why. This high spot between Cedar Rapids and Waterloo encompasses 32 miles of gently rolling rural beauty rich in reconstructed prairie and woodland.

The land provides excellent wildlife habitat for a variety of species. Among the species that frequent the site are bobolinks, a bird species of greatest conservation need.

Rich arranged a bequest of 110 acres to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation with the expectation that they would permanently protect the property's prairie and woodlands.

“I felt like I'd done my job,” Rich said. “I didn't have to worry anymore about what would become of the land after I’m gone."

Rich Zeis

Rich Zeis holds an old sign found on his property. It's now a permanently protected natural area.

Fifteen years later, Rich asked himself “why wait?” and donated the land to INHF with a reserved life estate in 2014. A desire to see the land permanently protected during his lifetime, the freedom and financial benefits this option offered were all part of his decision.

"These are good tax benefits, quite frankly,” Rich said. “Some people might be hesitant to donate with reserved life estate, fearing they would lose control of the land. It’s not that way. I can still enjoy it and do everything with it that I would want to.”

Rich also appreciates the peace of mind that a complete gift with lifetime use provides.

“I don’t have to worry that, when I enter my dotage, someone will try to convince me to do something different, like develop it. I know that this matter is settled.”