Conserve Your Land

We would be delighted to talk with you about options for conserving your land. Contact us to start the conversation. 

Scroll to the bottom to read about how landowner and Oak Heritage member Hilary Beall protected her family with with Oak Heritage Conservancy.

Zebra swallowtail on butterfly weed in a forest opening on Hilary Beall’s newly conserved family farm. Photo by Hilary’s husband, Joe Tesoriero.

Donation of Land
A donation of land for conservation purposes is truly one of the finest legacies a person can leave to future generations. In today’s growing world, land is being developed extremely fast here in Southern Indiana.

Donating your land to Oak Heritage can ensure open green space for future generations to enjoy.

A donation of land can release you from the responsibility of managing your land and can also provide substantial income tax deductions and estate tax benefits (while avoiding any capital gains taxes that would have resulted from selling the property). Additionally, you can also donate land in a will, thereby decreasing the tax burdens on your heirs and ensuring permanent protection for many generations to come.

Donating a Conservation Easement
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust. This unique agreement allows you and your family to continue to own and use the land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs.

When you donate a conservation easement to Oak Heritage, you give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional structures, while retaining the right to farm or pasture the land. But the great thing about a conservation easement is this: it can be individually tailored to whatever you would like (as long as it has a conservation value). Also, future owners will be bound by the easement’s terms. Oak Heritage’s task is to educate the new landowner about the agreement and enforce its terms in perpetuity.

Another potential advantage of a conservation easement is the tax benefits. If a donation meets federal tax code requirements, it may be eligible as a tax-deductible charitable donation. Plus, in many instances a Conservation Easement will result in property tax savings.

Conservation easements offer great flexibility and perhaps most important, a conservation easement can be essential for passing land on to the next generation. By removing the land’s development potential, the easement lowers its market value, which in turn lowers estate taxes. Whether the easement is donated during your life or by will, it can make a critical difference in the heirs’ ability to keep the land intact. Visit the Land Trust Alliance to learn more about conserving your land or contact us today to start a conversation about conservation.

Protecting the Family Land and Legacy

Oak Heritage board members walk the Beall property, getting to know the land. This donation protects high quality hardwood forests, creeks, meadows, and a lake.

“From the time I was born until about 14, we spent every weekend, every summer at the farm,” says Hilary Beall, of Madison.

She describes exploring the woods and helping her dad with work on the farm. “There are just a lot of memories there.” In December 2020, Hilary protected that land forever by donating a Conservation Easement to Oak Heritage. Her donation pushed us over the 1,000 acres protected mark. She hopes that sharing her story will help others who are considering how to honor their families’ legacies.

The family farm, in southeast Indiana, includes over 200 acres of mature, rolling forest, a large lake bordered by woods and meadows, and farmland.

Hilary knew she wanted to protect her land, but she had some questions.

“How do I do that? How do I find someone I trust? It’s something I’ve been thinking about for about probably 10-15 years.” Finding Oak Heritage was “a weight off of my shoulders.”

“Conservation is really important to me. It’s something that was really important to my father – but the family history, family memories – those are really important, too. To be able to solve both of them is great.”

Hilary’s family has deep roots in the area. Her ancestors acquired a portion of the land through the land grant, and her father added on to it. Now, she’s protecting the family land and conserving the land forever.

The Conservation Easement protects the land from subdivision and development. Her donation helps us fulfill our mission: to protect the natural heritage of southeast Indiana. Hilary retains ownership. If she decides to sell, the easement is tied to the deed, so Oak Heritage will be there to protect the land in perpetuity.

A neighbor recently sent Hilary a video of her dad on a bulldozer, when the lake was under construction. “That was a massive undertaking. It was something he was passionate about. He put his mark on that place.” Protecting the land with Oak Heritage “is my opportunity to put my mark on the land – or set its path forward.”