Protecting the Family [Tree] Farm: Part 2 (For Future Generations)

My last post mentioned some ways to protect your tree farm from misuse or abuse when logging or selling the timber off your property. But what will become of your tree farm in the future? What if you want to preserve it as a tree farm for future generations?

If you have family that will carry on the legacy, a simple Will could be sufficient to keep the property in the family. If, however, you don’t have family who wants to preserve the property, or you want to make sure property remains forested long after you and your family are gone, you may be interested in a conservation easement.

A conservation easement basically preserves the land as it’s being used, whether for typical agricultural products (corn, wheat, soy, etc.) or as a tree farm. You would be giving an organization, such as a land trust or conservancy, the right to permanently enforce the easement on the land – to use the property only for the stated purposes.

In Ohio, if you want to receive compensation for having a conservation easement on your land, you could do this through a grant from the Clean Ohio Fund’s Local Agricultural Easement Purchase Program (LAEPP). In that case, your land would have to meet certain requirements, such as having a minimum of 40 acres, it must contain a restriction against subdividing parcels in the future, and for forested land, it has to have a written Forest Management Plan in place.

If you aren’t concerned with receiving compensation for it (though, regardless, you will receive estate tax deductions), you could donate the easement, which would accomplish the same objective and would still retain your right to own and use the land. Another alternative would be to donate your land or a piece of it directly to a conservation organization, which can be done with a will or a trust.

Many families want their farms to continue to be operated as farms, but some don’t have family who is interested in pursuing the legacy. Conservation or agricultural easements are a great way to protect the land we love for future farming generations.

If you need assistance with protecting your property, feel free to contact us for a consultation.

Moriah E. Schmidt

Attorney At Law

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