Because private woodland management provides many benefits to nature and society, public financial assistance is available. These options include tax-relief programs, incentive payments, and cost-sharing for your woodland projects. A few of these programs are listed below.
These programs are always changing, so be sure to visit this page often or ask your local forester for the most up-to-date information.
Click on topic below to reveal more information. Click again to hide.
Some landowners want to make sure their land will never be developed or converted to another use by selling or donating a conservation easement. Conservation easements serve a variety of conservation purposes and are generally intended to protect important features of a property. They are voluntary, legal agreements by the landowner to give up some of the rights associated with their property, such as the right to develop, divide, mine, or farm the land to protect the important land, water, habitat, and other conservation features. Conservation easements vary, depending on the host organization and the landowner's specifications. Perpetual conservation easements are intended to last forever. Term easements are for a specified length of time. Since the agreements are tied to the land and not the owner, the property will be kept in a largely natural state no matter who owns it in the future. Easements are visited regularly (usually annually) by the organization holding the easement to monitor the conditions of the property. Public agencies and some nonprofit organizations whose purposes include conservation preservation can hold conservations easements. Interested landowners can either sell or donate an easement to one of these organizations.
Here are some examples of organizations that have conservation easement programs.
If you want to keep your woodland in the family and make sure it remains intact, consider creating a family limited liability company (FLLC or LLC) for your land. An LLC is a business entity that can hold land and be used to manage the land while shielding the owners from certain personal liability issues. Placing woodland in an LLC also helps landowners transfer their property to the next generation while minimizing the risk that the property will be forcefully sold upon demand of one of the heirs—known as "avoidance of partition" in legal terms. Rather, the land is titled in the name of the company, which is divided into units of membership similar to the way a corporation is divided into shares. Using this model, you as the owner can gift portions of the value of the land in the form of company units to your heirs over time. You retain decision-making power over the land as a majority partner until such time that you see fit to pass on responsibility. Passing land on in this way—as annual gifts below a certain maximum value—can help landowners potentially decrease the estate taxes associated with high-value property.
Importantly, LLCs offer opportunities to engage the next generation in caring for and managing the land within your lifetime, and may provide a good platform to pass on your goals and values for the land as well as the property itself. While LLCs are easy to create, you may need to take many steps to ensure that the LLC functions as you intend. Further, inheritance and tax law can be complicated and may change frequently. For these reasons, it is important to work with a certified public accountant or attorney who is familiar with the specific needs of Minnesota woodland owners. More information »