CHARLES COUNTY, Md. Three Charles County landowners combined to protect a total of 480 acres of farmland, woodland, and scenic open space during 2006 through donations of perpetual conservation easements to the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET), ensuring that the lands will remain forever untouched by development. The new easements protect 120 acres of farmlands and pastures, 320 acres of woodlands and 40 acres of wetlands.
Paul Facchina, Sr. protected 362 acres with his ninth easement for a total of 1,925 acres, the largest acreage protected by one landowner over METs 30-year history. The farm that he protected this year is in Welcome, overlooking Nanjemoy and Burgess Creeks. In addition, Wayne Wilkerson and Jim Lorenzi jointly protected 119 acres of forest in Nanjemoy. Over the years, Wilkerson and Lorenzi have placed a total of 490 acres under conservation easements; this years protected lands will serve as a buffer of a tributary to the Potomac River.
Nick Williams, Director of MET commented, The generosity of the landowners and their growing interest in protecting their lands and the character of their communities has enabled the Trust to increase its protected acreage rapidly in recent years.
The Trust now holds over 6,000 acres of easements in Charles County. Statewide, MET protected over 3,260 acres in 2006, bringing their total acreage protected since 1972 to over 112,000 acres.
The Maryland Environmental Trust is authorized by law to accept private donations of interest in real estate, money or other property; such gifts are tax deductible. In giving conservation easements, landowners donate the development rights on their property while retaining all other rights of ownership. Easement properties may be eligible for a federal income tax deduction, state income tax credit, property tax and estate tax benefits.
Easement donations to the Trust may be eligible for a federal income tax deduction, a state income tax deduction or credit, and a property tax credit. On the federal level, the charitable deductions that a landowner may claim on his/her income tax return for the donation of a qualifying conservation easement increased substantially as of August 2006, especially for farmers and ranchers. These new federal tax benefits are set to expire at the end of 2007, unless Congress acts to extend them.
For more information about conservation easements, contact the Maryland Environmental Trust, 100 Community Place, Crownsville, MD 21023 (toll-free 877-514-7900 or 410-514-7900) or visit the Trusts website at www.dnr.maryland.gov/met. The Conservancy for Charles County also accepts donations of conservation easements and may be reached at 301-283-2410.
Source: Md. Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR)