Giving Land to INHF

By Anita O'Gara on December 21, 2016 in Blog Posts

Dozens of Iowa landowners have entrusted their land’s future to Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation.

INHF often hears, “What would you do with my land if I gave it to you?” The answer: It depends.

We take into account:

  • Your wishes
  • The land’s needs
  • Partners or opportunities available to serve your land’s needs and your wishes
  • INHF’s ability to care for your land in perpetuity

Here are a few examples:

The “Peace of Mind” Bequest

Landowners who want their land to be protected, but don’t want to personally go through the decisions and steps to do so, can bequeath their land to INHF and let us take care of those decisions and steps after your lifetime.

We anticipate receiving lands that we will donate to local conservation agencies, and others that we will likely keep and care for long-term with the help of our interns and volunteers. Some landowners expect us to inherit their land, protect it with a conservation easement, and sell it to a conservation buyer, returning it to private ownership.

INHF keeps good notes about donor intentions. Often these are in the form of intention letters signed by the donor. These intentions can be updated during the donor’s life, and we try to stay in touch with bequest donors to serve the changing needs of the donor and the land throughout their lifetimes.

View more on bequest and estate planning with land.

The Family Farm Donation

When a person holds the responsibility of inherited family land, like a multi-generation family farm for which there are no family heirs in a next generation, donating that land to INHF can ensure that the family name and story remains with the land.

Such a donation serves two purposes:

  1. The land will be stewarded well, and
  2. Its income supports conservation action in Iowa, year after year.

Donation with reserved life estate can be a good way to donate farmland. You can retain the income for the remainder of your life, and also receive partial tax benefits for your donation.

INHF has a good track record in handling farms well for soil health, water quality and wildlife. We can keep steep slopes, streambanks and other sensitive areas in prairies or trees to benefit wildlife and water, while farming the best cropland acres with soil health and water impact in mind.

View the Lanz Farm story for an example.

The Pass-through Donation for Public Enjoyment

Some landowners would like to share their land with future Iowans who need a walk in the woods, a birding spot, or a place to hunt. A donation to a county conservation board, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, or other conservation agency might be the best way to meet that goal. But if the landowner has seen local political pressure to limit or sell conservation land, they may not trust that their land will be protected in this way.

In such cases,  a few landowners have donated their land to INHF instead, knowing that we will look for ways to further protect the land with a deed restriction or conservation easement before donating it on to an agency that can provide for public enjoyment of nature there.

View the Grimes Family story for an example.

The Natural Land Donation

Some landowners would like to see their prairie, wetland, woodland or other natural land in INHF’s hands long-term. Perhaps neither public nature land nor private ownership seem quite right to them. INHF has been able to accept some donations of natural land that produces no income. This is a careful decision we prefer to discuss with the landowner, especially regarding their expectations of land management and INHF’s capacity to manage it well.

Some donors provide a cash donation or bequest in addition to the land, to boost INHF’s  ability to provide land management. While not required, such support is deeply appreciated and very beneficial. When donated land involves some cropland along with the natural areas, the crop income helps to support the land’s management into the future.

View the Roslea and Bob Johnson story for an example.