Deciding which option is right

Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust provides an opportunity for a landowner to leave a legacy of unspoiled land and water resources through a variety of voluntary conservation options.

Conservation Easement

An easement is a voluntary and permanent conveyance that legally places restrictions on a landowner’s property.  Each such easement is designed to reflect the landowner’s individual needs and wishes.  The landowner retains the right to own and sell the property, but the easement restrictions will always remain with the property and attached to the land title.  Most conservation easements are donated by the landowner to a land trust, and such donations can provide significant tax advantages.  The Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust is a qualified Wisconsin land trust.


This option may be best suited for a landowner if the landowner does not wish to leave the land to heirs, no longer uses the land, or wants to be relieved of management responsibilities.  Donations can include all or just a portion of the property.  It is possible to donate property now and retain the right to live on and use the property during the landowner’s lifetime.  This is known as a “reserved life estate.”

Bargain Sale

With this choice, a landowner sells the land to a land trust at a price below what the landowner could receive on the open market.  The landowner relinquishes rights to own or use the land but is compensated financially and in tax benefits.


A bequest is also called a “donation by devise” and transfers ownership of property to a land trust through a landowner’s will.  This is a great choice if compensation is not a necessity and a landowner does not want to limit the current use of the land.

Land Sale 

This option provides compensation for protection of the land.  The Couderay Waters Regional Land Trust has limited funding for purchases.  However, it may be possible for a land trust to fundraise in order to purchase a particularly important piece of land.


If a landowner is concerned with protecting the natural value of the landowner’s land but is not ready to permanently protect it, the landowner may want to consider this option.  By registering land with a land trust, the landowner makes a non-binding commitment to protect the natural elements, features, and characteristics of the property. The landowner also agrees to notify the trust of any threats to the land and before selling or transferring the property.  Registration acts as a reminder for a landowner and the trust to communicate before any definitive action is taken with respect to the land.