conservation options

Our well-being and prosperity is tied to the health of our environment.

Without clean air, pure water, and local, safe food, public health and economic activity would be degraded. Investments in land conservation create a complete package of benefits for the environment, economy, and health. And one-time investments in conserving land continue to offer those same benefits for generations to come.

How land conservation works

To be eligible for conservation, land must possess conservation values such as fertile agricultural soils, wildlife habitats, or water resources whose protection has a demonstrable public benefit.

Conservation projects are customized to meet the needs and complexities of each unique parcel of land and every individual landowner’s interests and circumstances.

Land can be conserved in two basic ways: land ownership can be transferred or the land can have restrictions on development.

Transfers explained

If the land is transferred, the landowners convey title to the property to a nonprofit land trust or government entity, either during their lifetimes, as a life estate, or as a bequest in their wills. Transfers are often referred to as fee acquisitions. In the case of a transfer, the receiving organization will own the property once it is transferred.

Restrictions explained

If land is conserved through restrictions, landowners and/or their successors continue to own and farm their land. They conserve the land by limiting development or restricting uses in order to protect the land’s conservation values for the future.

A nonprofit land trust, such as Saratoga PLAN, or a government entity will ensure that the restrictions are upheld in perpetuity, no matter who owns the land in the future. This happens through a legally binding agreement called a conservation easement that protects the restrictions that the landowners place on their property.

Both conservation easements and title transfers can be donated, sold, or a combination of the two (called a bargain sale). There are numerous tax considerations for donations, sales, and bargain sales. The funds used to purchase properties are limited and are attained through competitive grants and fundraising. Whether restricted or transferred, land conservation decisions are permanent and cannot be undone. 

This one-time investment in conserving the land leaves a lasting legacy that keeps on giving, year after year, for generations to come.

Tradeland explained

Sometimes real estate is given as a tradeland. In this case, typically a house on a lot, commercial property, or vacant land without significant conservation value, the tradeland is used as a financial asset for the organization to sell and use the proceeds to conserve other land.

Interested in conserving your land?

Tori Roberts, Saratoga PLAN’s conservation project manager, is available to discuss land conservation options that may be applicable to the landowners’ situations. For a free, confidential consultation, call Saratoga PLAN at 518-587-5554 or email

Learn more

Hear what landowners have to say about conserving their land.