The Georgia-Alabama Land Trust Process
Get to Know You
The process of donating land through a conservation easement begins with an initial site visit to get to know you and your property. We will talk further about the steps in the process, including the costs. Our goal is to discuss your conservation goals and priorities for using the land to see how the conservation purposes can be accomplished.
Collect Information and Paperwork
The next step is to put some things on paper, and you (the landowner) are encouraged to engage an attorney to assist with this. Large tracts of land – family farms in particular – have likely been passed down to heirs or through estates. Researching titles and reviewing legal description of land and any possible encumbrances are essential components of this phase. Surveys and mapping of property may be necessary to define the property and the characteristics, as nature has a way of making changes to land over time. If you are interested in the federal and state tax benefits you will also need to independently engage an appraiser to complete appraisal of the property.
Once the land trust receives a certificate of title confirming ownership and boundaries a follow-up site visit is conducted to complete ecological inventory of the property, or the Baseline Documentation Report (BDR). We consult State Wildlife Plans to determine if desirable conservation values are present on the landowner’s property. The BDR consists of maps, photographs (aerial if needed), and written reports by our knowledgeable staff depicting the current condition of the property. Our team will begin to draft a formal conservation easement based on our research and your conservation goals that will protect and conserve your property.
Closing and Annual Stewardship
The final step is for the landowner and land trust to come together at closing to sign the Conservation Easement. From here on, we will be partners in stewarding the land into the future. Remember that the landowner will retain private ownership of the property and now has the support of a land steward. The land trust will contact the landowner annually to stay connected, discuss the condition of the property, and notify/schedule a stewardship monitoring visit (ground or aerial) to ensure the conservation purposes preserved in the easement remain intact, forever.