The following is an example of a conservation easement held by one of the many land trusts in Missouri and the benefits described by the landowner:
Tom and Marilyn Vernon Conservation Easement
The following summary was written by Tom and Marilyn Vernon, who gave the development rights to their 18-acre property to The Greenbelt Land Trust.
"For the past nine years we have worked a small vineyard on Nebo Cemetery Road. We’ve come to love the natural beauty, wildlife and farms of this area. When we drive to our vineyard on Gillespie Bridge Road, we’re very concerned by what we see. Farms and natural areas are rapidly turning into commercial and residential development.
"For this reason we recently gave the development rights to our 18 acres to The Greenbelt Land Trust. As a result of this voluntary gift we will take a tax deduction of $99,000 from our adjusted gross income spread over the next five years. (IRS publications 526 and 561 describe the tax matters related to this.)
"This gift does not limit our ownership or control of the property. We can still farm it, sell it, and pass it on to our children. We can also increase or reduce the amount of land under cultivation if we want to.
"Our legal agreement with the Greenbelt Land Trust, the conservation easement that describes the gift, limits the extent to which the land can be developed. For example, one residence plus outbuildings is allowed; a housing development is not allowed. A confined animal operation is not allowed. It also describes the obligations of the land trust to insure that the agreement is enforced. In essence the agreement permanently protects the pastures and woods, the natural beauty of area around the vineyard for future generations.
"We hope other Boone County land owners will consider the benefits of conservation easements of this sort. If so, the county might retain the natural beauty and agricultural atmosphere that many of us love and that make the county a special place.