A land trust is a non-governmental public charity (501c3 nonprofit) whose primary purpose is to own or manage land in a way that is consistent with its mission. That typically means protecting natural resources. In the case of the Pee Dee Land Trust (PDLT), our mission defines natural, agricultural, and historic resources as appropriate for conservation.
As a public charity, PDLT represents the taxpayers. Our primary source of funding is individual members and donors – we are not dependent on government funding. PDLT can accept tax-deductible donations in the form of land and interests in land, or monetary gifts. The donor may be eligible for tax benefits, and the public enjoys the benefits of protected land. It’s truly a win-win situation.
The land trust has a toolbox full of options to help landowners who are interested in conservation. Some are obvious--like buying land or accepting donations of land. Other tools include providing funds, or helping with negotiations for other groups involved in land protection. A land trust can help find and encourage conservation buyers. It can also acquire (through purchase or donation) specific development rights on a parcel of land, even though it remains in private ownership. This sort of transaction is handled through a legal document known as a conservation easement.
Because land protection is done strictly on a voluntary basis by the landowner, the land trust's conservation efforts are non-regulatory, and do not advocate for various environmental causes. At its core, Pee Dee Land Trust is about preserving the special relationship Pee Dee residents have with their land.
Pee Dee Land Trust has reprinted an updated copy of its Landowner Easement Guide thanks to the support of Duke Energy. This valuable resource is fully updated with 2015 tax guidelines on the state and federal level.