Landowner header

Does my land have conservation value?

The easy answer is “Yes.” Iowa has relatively little natural land for wildlife or people, and our cropland is precious with some of the most productive soils in the world.

The points below can help you recognize lands that more easily fit the IRS definitions of “conservation value” for tax benefit purposes, and more easily fit into priorities for public conservation agencies or organizations with which you may wish to work.

We recommend you invite INHF or another conservation entity to help you determine your land’s conservation value. You may be surprised at the ways your land is important for Iowa conservation.

Natural resources

If your land includes a native prairie, trout stream or great woodland or wetlands, it’s important to consider its future. INHF can help determine the quality of the habitats and ecosystems on your land, and whether it’s right for protection or restoration.

Key location

  • Adjacent to public land: If you own land next to an existing public area (like county/state parks or wildlife management areas), your land may help expand the wildlife habitat, public access, land management options or buffering benefits of the current public complex.
  • Near protected land: Land near other protected land (private or public) can help connect natural wildlife corridors along rivers, trails and scenic byways.
  • Watersheds: INHF can help identify if your land has exceptional impact on the water quality of the state’s lakes, rivers or streams.

Large area

Very large tracts of land have more conservation value than small tracts. They can often serve as stand-alone conservation areas, even if they are not currently managed for wildlife or nature.


There are a lot of options for marrying cropland protection with conservation goals. Some involve continued cropping and income, others involve restoring cropland to woodland, wetland or prairie. Learn more about protection possibilities for agricultural land.

Historical or archeological significance

Many of Iowa’s most beautiful natural areas contain significant cultural and historic resources — from effigy mounds built by prehistoric cultures and pottery shards left by Native American tribes to architecturally unique barns. Landowners can protect historical resources alone or as part of a larger conservation plan.

If your land’s main value is cultural, you might want to contact the Office of the State Archeologist or the State Historical Society of Iowa. These departments often work in tandem with conservation partners to protect the land’s natural resources simultaneously.

Is your land outside Iowa?

We recommend you contact a land trust that serves the area where your land is located. You can find a listing of land trusts by region from the Land Trust Alliance.

Lots to think about. Let’s talk it through.
It can be hard to sort through your land protection options and tax benefits on a website. We’re here to help you through it. We can visit by phone, in person or on the land. Free. Confidential. No sales pitch. No obligation. Just the information and introductions you need to get started.