Conservation Buyer Properties: Another Land Protection Tool - The Leelanau Conservancy

Conservation Buyer Properties: Another Land Protection Tool

Picture 027 compressed for web
View from Echo Valley property

We protect land in many different ways. One of “tools in the land protection toolbox” is what we call a “Buy, Restrict, Resell” project, which is part of our Conservation Buyer Program.

But before we get to that, here’s a little background. There are over 220,000 acres in Leelanau County and the Leelanau Conservancy has protected 11,868 acres to date.  Of those 11,868, we own just over 2,000 acres. These lands make up our Natural Areas, Preserves, and Forest Reserves, which are open to the public. The Conservancy does not wish to own many more acres because it’s costly to care for these public places and because we understand how important it is for land to stay on the tax rolls, supporting our schools, roads, and fire departments.  Therefore, helping private landowners to preserve cherished family lands and ecologically significant parcels with “conservation easements,” legal agreements restricting development (see below), is a big part of our work.

One aspect of this work is our Conservation Buyer Program, which connects conservation easement sellers with buyers who are interested in purchasing protected property. Click here to view available properties with existing conservation easements as well as properties the Conservancy would consider protecting. In the last two years at least six conservation easement properties have sold to new owners.

Picture 023 compressedIn some cases, the Leelanau Conservancy will purchase land with important ecological features and hold it until a conservation buyer can be found. The property will then be sold at fair market value with the conservation easement restrictions in place.  This is called a Buy, Restrict, Resell project.  At the moment we have two great properties for sale.

One is a 40-acre Echo Valley property near Empire. “We acquired it because the land preserves the ridgeline surrounding Big Glen Lake and the property is an important part of the Hatlem Creek sub-watershed,” says Yarrow Brown, Conservation Easement Program Manager.  For those who are seeking the ultimate seclusion, this parcel adjoins the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and is located midway along scenic  (seasonally maintained) Echo Valley Road.

“The Conservancy is willing to work with a prospective buyer on the details of the conservation easement agreement,” adds Yarrow, “but we won’t allow the two-acre building site to be along the upper ridge line.”

This could be a great property for someone looking to establish a seasonal cottage in the woods or a hunting camp next to National Park property. It features a diverse forest with mature hardwoods and beautiful hemlock trees. A park-like setting offers filtered views of Big Glen when leaves are on the trees and “wow” views during the time when leaves are off. Just north of this parcel, on Park property, is an amazing “kettle drumlin,” a spectacular crater left thousands of years ago when the glaciers sculpted the land. Echo Valley is listed at $95,000, per the terms of a conservation easement, which can be reviewed by contacting Realtor Rob Serbin or Yarrow Brown.  Click here for more information on this property.

A Conservation Easement:

  • Is a legal agreement: It protects the natural qualities of your land by restricting development.

  • Is flexible: You negotiate the terms of your Conservation Easement with a Land Protection Specialist from the Leelanau Conservancy.

  • Keeps land in private ownership: Many people mistakenly think that if they place a conservation easement on their property, their land will become open to the public. Not true! Conservation easement landowners retain the right to keep their land private.

  • Can result in an income tax deduction and reduced property and estate taxes.