Middletown - The Orange County Land Trust and the owners of a New Windsor Christmas tree farm recently agreed to the protection of additional farm and woodland acreage with the placement of a conservation easement held by the Land Trust which will ensure the lands remain undeveloped and available for agricultural use.
Pine View Farm, a Christmas tree farm on Jackson Avenue, had previously conserved 20 acres of the farm in 2004 with a conservation easement held by the Orange County Land Trust. Owners Bill and Margaret Steidle decided to protect an additional 5.2 acres of their land under conservation easement, bringing the total conserved acreage to just over 25 acres. The conservation easement will allow for continued agricultural use of the land, yet will prohibit future development as well as subdividing of the property. The lands have high conservation value, and contain water resources including Beaver Creek, a spring-fed pond and a NYS designated wetland. The property also contains hay fields and a diverse tree population and provides wildlife habitat for turkey, raccoon, deer and a variety of birds. The farm has historical value as well, with structures built during the 19th century.
"We are delighted that the Steidle’s have agreed to add additional acreage to their original conservation easement with us," said Mary Yrizarry, president of the Orange County Land Trust. "This will allow them to keep farming, while helping to protect a beautiful natural area in this historic part of Orange County."
Conservation easements are deeded restrictions placed on a property where the private landowner agrees to not develop that property. The property is still owned by the landowner and remains on the tax rolls. The conservation easement transfers with the sale of the property and can be placed on all or a just a portion of the property. Conservation easements are tailored to the property owner’s preferences and clearly stipulate what types of future development and use will be allowed. The placement of a conservation easement entitles landowners to significant state and federal income tax deductions. Congress recently extended the Enhanced Federal Tax Incentive for Conservation Easements through December 31, 2011. This incentive raises the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%. The enhanced extension also allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income and increases the number of years over which a landowner can take deductions from 6 to 16 years.
Land Trusts are legally responsible for ensuring that the terms of each conservation easement agreement are being followed in perpetuity and monitor each property with an annual site inspection.
The Orange County Land Trust is the only county-wide land trust and to date has helped protect nearly 4,000 acres of land and working farms. Working with landowners, the Land Trust’s area of expertise is preserving land through the placement of conservation easements, working with individual property owners and municipalities to secure funding for the purchase of development rights (PDR’s), accepting donations of land, and purchasing land for public access. The Land Trust owns and manages ten nature preserves in Orange County, seven which are open to the public, free of charge, for hiking birding and other forms of passive recreation. The Land Trust also works closely with Orange County Planning Office to plan and implement open space initiatives, and spearheaded the formation of the Orange County Open Space Alliance (OCOSA), an alliance of 20 area conservation organizations dedicated to preserving the county’s rural and agricultural heritage.
For more information, and for volunteer opportunities and ways of giving to the Orange County Land Trust, visit www.oclt.org or call (845) 343-0840.