Protecting Your Land

There are many different ways in which you and the Little Traverse Conservancy can work together to protect your land. Whether you want to maintain ownership, sell, or donate your land for protection, explore all of your options for permanently protecting the scenic and conservation values of your property.
Landowner Options Booklet

Few more enduring legacies can be imagined than the protection of a natural landscape. The Conservancy accepts gifts of land which has special ecological, recreational, or scenic value. Land which does not meet these criteria may be donated with the understanding that the Conservancy will sell the land and use the proceeds to purchase other significant natural land. In either case, you may claim an income tax deduction based on the fair market value of the land at the time of the gift. The Conservancy is happy to name the resulting nature preserve in your honor or in the memory of a loved one.

Leaving land to the Conservancy in your will allows you to retain full use and control of the land during your lifetime, yet ensures its care after you are gone. Because the gift must be formally accepted after your death, we urge you to share your plans with us in advance so that we may assure you that the gift meets our criteria for acceptance.

Land is occasionally purchased for conservation purposes by various governmental units and by the Conservancy. Sales below market value (“bargain sales”) involve the gift of a portion of the property’s value by the donor. The value of the gifted portion can be deducted from the donor’s federal income taxes.

A working forest reserve is a relatively new category of protected lands for LTC. LTC’s working forest reserves are protected lands that may be enrolled in the Commercial Forest Act Program (CFA). CFA designation means the land has and/or will always be actively managed for timber production. CFA designation also requires that the land be open to the public for hunting. Currently (Spring, 2018), LTC owns 21 working forest reserves encompassing 2,863 acres throughout the LTC service area.

You can continue living on your land, managing it – even selling it whenever you choose – by entering into a conservation easement. Conservation easements are individually tailored to the goals of each landowner. If you want to own your land and manage it as a working farm, or own your land and prevent future development, this could be a great option. Another option that allows you to continue living on your land is through a donation of life estate. With this option, you will be able to transfer ownership of real estate to the Conservancy while maintaining the right to use the property and buildings until the end of your and your spouse’s life.

The easement is signed by the landowner, who is the easement donor, and the Conservancy, who is the party receiving the easement. The Conservancy accepts the easement with understanding that it must enforce the terms of the easement in perpetuity. After the easement is signed, it is recorded with the County Register of Deeds and applies to all future owners of the land. The Conservancy will monitor the easement on an annual basis (See this document for information about conservation easement monitoring).

Conservation Easement Guidebook

If you would like more information about your options as a landowner,
or if you would like to arrange for the Little Traverse Conservancy to do a site visit and discuss land protection options, please call the Conservancy office at 231.347.0991 or email

Photos by Todd Parker