Conservation Investor Program
An Innovative Solution
In situations where it is not financially feasible for a land trust to purchase a property or an easement on a property and no conservation buyers exist or UOL is not interested in planning and carrying out a limited development, a viable alternative is the utilization of conservation investors. A conservation investor may be defined as an individual, corporation, partnership, limited partnership, or limited liability corporation that acquires a key conservation property and works collaboratively with a non-profit land trust to protect the property’s unique values.
What Is A Conservation Investor?
A conservation investor is an individual or group of people which has the capacity to invest substantial amounts of money in real estate and has an interest in preserving the scenic, agricultural, historic or wildlife values of a property, in addition to protecting and enhancing one’s own property values (if the conservation investor’s property is located near the investment property). The goal of the conservation investor is to generate a financial return on the investment that is proportional to the accompanying investment risks, while structuring the investment so that important land conservation is achieved. In other words, their objectives are to simultaneously “do well” and “do good”. The goal of Utah Open Lands is to permanently protect a threatened property, and, in certain cases, a conservation investor may be the only viable option.
How the Program Works
Generally, a conservation investor acquires property, donates a conservation easement to Utah Open Lands, and either sells a portion of it to development, leases it for agricultural purposes, or retains it for appreciation purposes. In other cases, the “charitable investors” may invest in a working farm, fishing preserve, or ranch with deed restrictions to allow only agriculture, forestry, or recreation uses. In return, the investors receive a percentage of the operation’s income and tax benefits (for example, through depreciation of capital assets, deductions for business expenses or deductions for mortgage interest payments may be realized), in addition to the comfort of knowing they have played an instrumental role in conserving open land.