Bainbridge Island Land Trust - Working together to protect the Island's natural resources
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The Bainbridge Island Land Trust protects and preserves private property as well as acquires land for parks and trails.
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The Bainbridge Island Land Trust protects and preserves private property as well as acquires land for parks and trails.

Bainbridge Island Land Trust FAQ's

What is a Conservation Easement?
Would the Land Trust be interested in buying my land?
Are there tax benefits for putting a conservation easement on my property?
Does putting an easement on property take it off the tax rolls?
If someone lowers their property tax with a conservation easement, doesn't that mean that the rest of us will have to pay their share?
Why should owners working with the Land Trust get tax breaks?
But, that really isn't fair is it?
Isn't the Land Trust taking away property rights for future generations by extinguishing the development rights?
What if someone buys a property next to them and then donates it or an easement to the Land Trust? Aren't you just helping the rich be able to enjoy their property more by not having any more development next door?
What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement (land protection agreement) between the Land Trust and a landowner that protects and preserves the “conservation values” of the land. The “conservation values” can be forest, shoreline, wetlands, animal habitat, farmland, scenic views and open space. The Land Trust agrees to protect and steward the conservation values on the property forever. The agreement is recorded with the deed to the property. Even if the property changes hands, the agreement remains in force.

Often landowners extinguish one or more development rights on their property and may get substantial income and property tax benefits from doing so.

Does your land qualify? Look at our Conservation Checklist to see! For more information, contact Asha Rehnberg, Executive Director at the Land Trust office, 842-1216.

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Would the Land Trust be interested in buying my land?

Generally the Land Trust does not buy land. Instead BILT works with private property owners to put conservation easements on their property. (A conservation easement is a voluntary land protection agreement). The owners retain ownership while giving up some property rights.

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Are there tax benefits for putting a conservation easement on my property?

There may be but each situation is different. Please call the office to discuss your property.

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Does putting an easement on property take it off the tax rolls?

Not necessarily. Each easement is different but most owners will end up still paying some tax on their property.

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If someone lowers their property tax with a conservation easement, doesn't that mean that the rest of us will have to pay their share?

Yes. The savings to the owner are spread out over all the properties in the County which means that each individual pays a very small amount of that reduced tax.

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Why should owners working with the Land Trust get tax breaks?

The Land Trust did not make the law. In 1989, a law was passed in the state of Washington, called enabling legislation, recognizing that owners who choose to give up their property rights may be compensated by reduced taxes for providing public benefit such as open space, view corridors, wetlands, or forests (RCW 64.04.130). Federal law allowing some charitable contribution deductions for conservation easements went into effect in 1967.

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But, that really isn't fair is it?

It depends on how you look at it. If the owner developed his property to the maximum, you would be required to pay for increased taxes for road construction, fire protection, schools, parks, police and other infrastructure. Those costs generally exceed the small amount of taxes that are being reduced.

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Isn't the Land Trust taking away property rights for future generations by extinguishing the development rights?

Putting a conservation easement on property is a completely voluntary action. The owner chooses to exercise his property rights by asking that limited or no further development occur on their property. Removing development rights is no different than allowing minerals, oil, or gravel products to be removed from properties. When those products are removed from a property they too, are gone forever.

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What if someone buys a property next to them and then donates it or an easement to the Land Trust? Aren't you just helping the rich be able to enjoy their property more by not having any more development next door?

But the property will also benefit the public in many ways. As the saying goes, “Cows don’t go to school”.  There won’t be increased taxes for schools, hospitals, sewers, fire trucks, or police cars. The public will get to enjoy a view of open space unoccupied by buildings, driveways, or businesses. The land may also provide wildlife habitat and wetlands which help purify our groundwater, or just a sense and place of serenity. Depending on the terms of the easement, there could even be public access for hiking, biking, or bird watching.

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