Preserving Your Land

Edwin Remsberg

Every property and every landowner are unique. Harford Land Trust is here to help you find the land preservation option best suited for you and your property.

Conservation Easements

Land Donation

Land Purchase

Let’s Meet

Understanding your options to protect your land forever can be confusing. The staff members at Harford Land Trust have the experience and expertise to help guide you through the process and identify the land preservation option that works for you and your goals.

Our role often varies and may include developing conservation strategies, exploring funding sources and, in many instances, purchasing or accepting donations of land and conservation easements. In short, we protect land by cooperating with landowners and other agencies to find the best protection strategy for each property.

Schedule a consultation with us and we’ll help you to get started.

Conservation Easements

The most traditional tool for conserving private land, a conservation easement (also known as a conservation agreement) is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land, and they can also sell it or pass it on to heirs.

When you sell or donate a conservation easement, you give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional homes, while retaining the right to grow crops. An easement on property containing rare wildlife habitat might prohibit any development, for example, while an easement on a farm might allow continued farming and the addition of agricultural structures. Public access is not required.

Future owners also will be bound by the easement’s terms. The land trust or government agency is responsible for making sure the easement’s terms are followed over time.

Donated conservation easements

Purchased conservation easements

  • Harford Land Trust purchases conservation easements and also facilitates purchases through County, State, or Federal governments
  • Eligible properties must have at least one extra development right

Bargain sale conservation easements

  • Harford Land Trust or a government agency purchases the conservation easement for less than its market value
  • Landowners receive cash, may avoid some capital gains taxes, and may be eligible for various property and income tax benefits

Land Donation

Donating land may be the best conservation strategy for you if you do not wish to pass the land on to your heirs; own property you no longer use; own highly appreciated property; have substantial real estate holdings and wish to reduce estate tax burdens; or would like to be relieved of the responsibility of managing and caring for land.

Donating land releases you from the responsibility of managing the land and can provide substantial income tax deductions and estate tax benefits (while avoiding any capital gains taxes that would have resulted from selling the property).

If the land has conservation value, Harford Land Trust will ensure that it is permanently protected.

Commercial and residential properties can also be donated to Harford Land Trust, with the understanding that we will sell the land to support our conservation work.

Donating a remainder interest in land

  • Landowners continue to live on the land by donating a remainder interest and retaining a reserved life estate
  • When the landowner dies (or sooner if the landowner chooses), Harford Land Trust gains full title and control of the property
  • Landowners may be eligible for an income deduction when the gift is made

Donating land by will

  • Landowners continue to own and control the land during their lifetime
  • Landowners should communicate with the Harford Land Trust to ensure that the property meets our acceptance criteria
  • Land passes to the Harford Land Trust upon the landowner’s death

Land donations that establish a life income

  • Charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder unitrusts can be useful for highly appreciated land, the sale of which would incur high capital gains tax.

Land Purchase

Harford Land Trust may consider purchasing a property at or below fair market value. In specific instances, when a property is particularly vulnerable to development, we may purchase it with the express intention of protecting it.

Bargain sale

  • Harford Land Trust purchases the property at less than market value
  • Landowners receive cash, may avoid some capital gains taxes, and may be eligible for various property and income tax benefits


  • Harford Land Trust may consider purchasing properties with high conservation value, dependent on available funds

This information is for general planning purposes only. The Harford Land Trust does not provide legal, financial, or tax advice. The tax advantages of the above land preservation models will vary with individual financial situations. Please consult a tax advisor or attorney for how land preservation may affect your taxes. 

Additional Conservation Resources

In addition to our land preservation services, Harford Land Trust shares information about other conservation opportunities in Harford County that may be of interest to both landowners and the general public.

Photo by Scott McDaniel

Our Work Depends on You

Harford Land Trust can save more land in Harford County, Maryland, because of generous people like you.

Scroll to Top