Frequently Asked Questions
Are there costs associated with doing a conservation easement?
There are costs associated with putting a conservation easement on a property. Each conservation easement requires a report documenting the existing natural resources and human activity on the property, a minerals remoteness test if the landowner does not own all the mineral rights, verification of legal description, and recording fees. These are costs the Reliance incurs. Landowners decide which, if any, of these costs they can help defray. Associated costs, which are the responsibility of the landowner, may include an appraisal, and attorney or accountant fees. In some instances, there are funding sources available to help a landowner defray the costs associated with their conservation easement.
For how long does the conservation easement last?
MLR only takes conservation easements in perpetuity, which gives the donor the comfort of knowing that their property will remain as they describe in the conservation easement document. Additionally, Federal tax law stipulates that to quality for tax incentives, a conservation easement must be in perpetuity.
Will my property taxes be affected?
No, by Montana statute property taxes cannot be reduced by donation of a conservation easement.
How long will it take to put a conservation easement on my property?
It can take anywhere from three to eighteen months to negotiate a conservation easement, depending on a variety of factors.
How are donated conservation easements different from purchased conservation easements?
The Montana Land Reliance focuses its conservation efforts on donated conservation easements. If a landowner donates an easement on his or her property, he or she may be eligible for significant tax benefits, as conservation easements are considered charitable donations under federal tax law. MLR does not involve itself in the day-to-day management of private lands protected by conservation easement.
Purchased conservation easements are often more restrictive than donated conservation easements, due to the requirements of funding sources. They may involve greater project costs, take a longer time to complete, involve management plans, or require public access.
Do I have to allow public access on my land?
No, MLR does not require public access on its conservation easements. In fact, controlling access of any kind is a right retained by the landowner.
Can MLR staff come on my land whenever they want?
MLR staff sets up an appointment with each landowner once a year to monitor their conservation easement. The time is mutually agreed upon by MLR and the landowner.
How often do you monitor conservation easements?
MLR is required by law to monitor each of its conservation easements on an annual basis.
Is MLR going to tell me what to do with my property?
No, MLR is not in the land management business. We monitor conservation easements to ensure that the landowner is complying with the mutually agreed upon terms of the conservation easement. However, if the landowner has questions about natural resources management, MLR’s stewardship staff is available for consultation.
Do you transfer land ownership to the state or federal government?
No, we are a private land conservation organization, and only work with private landowners.
Does MLR own the property if I donate a conservation easement to them?
No, MLR only has an interest in the property, and controls those rights that the landowner wishes to restrict or eliminate. The landowner continues to own the property under the terms of the conservation easement.
Can I sell my land if I put a conservation easement on it?
Yes, the landowner retains full ownership of their land. The property is sold with the conservation easement attached-it “travels with the land”. The new landowner is subject to the same restrictions as the landowner who initiated the easement.
Where does MLR get its money?
We fundraise from private individuals and apply for grants from various foundations and businesses. We also receive income from MLR endowment funds.
Who runs MLR?
MLR is run by a board of directors which meets quarterly. The Board oversees policy and programs, and is ultimately responsible for all major decisions. The staff is responsible for the operations and functioning of the organization.