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Why and When to Protect Your Land

Your reasons for protecting your land for conservation might be purely practical or deeply personal. We often hear the following concerns from landowners who explore land protection:


What will happen to my land someday?

Are you worried about how your land will be used after you're gone? Is it under pressure to be converted to cropland? Quarried? Developed? Are livestock confinements or wind farms sprouting up around you?

These things aren’t necessarily wrong — but you may feel strongly that it’s wrong for your land.

Will the next owners resist those pressures and opportunities like you have? There are ways to be sure of that.

Who will care for this land?

Some landowners find they have no obvious heirs for their land: particularly, no one who is motivated to care for the land. This is a special concern for people who have worked hard to care for a prairie or woodland, to plant native trees and grasses, to restore wetlands or buffer streams. They have invested time, sweat and money into these efforts, and they know it takes consistent upkeep and commitment for the land to remain healthy.

How can you choose a next owner who is firmly committed to the land for the long haul? Land protection techniques can help you find that conservation-minded person, organization or agency.

How can my land help to honor my family and “give back” something lasting?

Those of us fortunate enough to own land that’s part of our family heritage may have strong emotional ties to that land — a sense of being entrusted with its past and its future. Whether your vision is to see your family land remain sustainably farmed or restored to natural land, managed for wildlife or enjoyment by future Iowans, INHF might be able to help you achieve that vision or create a lasting conservation legacy.

…and practical

How can my heirs afford to inherit this land?

Iowa inheritance tax and federal estate tax can make it difficult for land to pass forward without cost. When land is a major asset in a high-value estate, or when the heirs are not direct descendants of the landowner, this is an even bigger concern.

Land protection can help. For example, a conservation easement might lower the land’s value and bring the estate under the exclusion limit — saving the estate from owing an estimated 40 percent in federal estate taxes.

How can I turn my land into a public nature area?

When others’ enjoyment of your land is your goal, you will likely need to work with a conservation agency whose mission is to provide nature experiences for Iowans. You might explore your ideas with your county conservation board, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, or other agencies who share this goal. INHF works in partnership with many agencies, and we’re glad to discuss possible partners with you.

Estate planning

When you prepare or update your will, you think about the future of your land. Many people choose a bequest for conservation as a first step toward land protection: a reversible decision that provides a temporary “safety net” under the land while you explore other options over time. There’s peace of mind in knowing the land will be in good hands if anything should happen to you. Learn more about land protection's role in estate planning.

Financial or retirement planning

Land is a financial asset: an important puzzle piece for your overall planning. Land protection techniques can also offer financial or tax benefits that can be great puzzle pieces in your planning.

  • If you would like to sell your land to a conservation entity at some point, allow plenty of time to explore those conservation options. Public agencies need time to gain approvals for purchases as well as the funds to add land to public habitat. INHF might be able to help by holding the land in the interim or assisting the agency in seeking grant funding for the purchase.
  • Significant tax benefits can result from the various donation options for land protection. Plan ahead to use those tax benefits when it’s most useful to offset a spike in income or taxes.

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. Contact us.