Frequently Asked Questions

Conservation easements are voluntary, private agreements between a landowner and a qualified organization like the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. They are carefully crafted to help achieve a landowner’s vision for conserving the agricultural, wildlife, and scenic resources on their property. Each is customized to the landowner’s goals and will protect their property from unwanted or inappropriate future development. Conservation easements run with title to the land and last in perpetuity. You can read more in our Landowner’s Guide to Conservation Easements.
Gallatin Valley Land Trust can help you explore options for conservation of your property. We will work with you to design a conservation plan that will work best for you, your family, and the special resources on your land.
Gallatin Valley Land Trust serves Gallatin County and portions of the surrounding counties. We evaluate whether we can accept a conservation easement based on a project’s conservation values such as agricultural productivity, wildlife habitat, scenic open space, and connectivity with other conserved lands. Our volunteer board of directors approves every conservation project.

Most conservation easements are at least partly donated, and such a donation may qualify for federal tax benefits. In order to be a qualified conservation contribution under the federal laws, it must meet several regulations, including that it be perpetual, be granted to a qualified organization (like GVLT), and protect relatively natural wildlife habitat or scenic open space that provides public benefit (including farmland and forest land). Some conservation easements also allow public access for recreation or protect historic structures.

Creating a conservation easement is both a personal decision and a financial one. Landowners choose to place a conservation easement on their land for the peace of mind in knowing its special resources will be a lasting legacy, conserved in perpetuity. There are also financial incentives. Federal income tax benefits often apply to gifts of conservation easements. In some cases, GVLT is able to compensate landowners for a portion of the development rights extinguished with a conservation easement. These are called “bargain sale” easements. GVLT will work with a landowner and their appraiser, tax advisor, and attorney to craft a conservation strategy that will work best for them and their land.
Donation of a conservation easement that meets federal requirements is treated as a charitable gift and can provide a landowner with income and estate tax savings. For up to date tax benefit information, please contact GVLT Project Manager, Brendan Weiner at 406-587-8404 ext. 6.
No. The Gallatin Valley Land Trust wants private landowners to continue managing their land. You would still make decisions about how you manage your agricultural and timber resources. In some cases, a landowner will choose to work with GVLT to write a timber or grazing management plan.
Each conservation easement is unique and GVLT will work with you to explore the options for your property. For the most part, a conservation easement limits the number of times you can subdivide your property and the number, location, and extent of future residential structures. Traditional uses of the land, such as farming and ranching, hunting, and timber management are generally not restricted.
Once a conservation easement is in place, Gallatin Valley Land Trust works with the private landowner to ensure that the easement’s goals are upheld. We will contact the landowner once a year to monitor the easement and are always available as a resource to landowners, but we do not get involved in day-to-day decisions about land management or agricultural practices.
Yes. Since conservation easements are perpetual and run with title to the land, any future landowners will be subject to the terms of the conservation easement agreed upon by the original donor.
The accreditation seal recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national standards for excellence, uphold the public trust, and ensure that conservation efforts are permanent.
No. By Montana statute, conservation easements do not affect property taxes. The private landowner is still responsible for paying property taxes.
No. Conservation easements are private agreements between a landowner and the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. They do not make the land available for public recreation, nor does an easement prohibit access. Permission for hunting, fishing, hiking, and other forms of recreation require permission from the landowner, as on any other privately owned land. GVLT cannot give out the contact information for its conservation easement landowners. GVLT does work to help expand and secure public access through our Trails Program.