The gift of conservation

Four years ago, a Kansas landowner and his wife decided to donate a conservation easement held by the Ranchland Trust of Kansas.

By Samantha Weishaar November 9, 2020

He has a special interest and passion in caring for the native prairie. You will often find him spending countless hours every year cutting invasive trees, spot spraying for noxious weeds and other invasive plants. He also conducts prescribed burns to improve the natural grasslands on his 340-acre farm in Shawnee County.

The landowner's primary motivation for conserving this piece of land — land so important to him — was to keep it in its natural state. It will always be available for haying, grazing, seed production and other agricultural uses that do not destroy the native grasslands.

While roughly five acres of the land is tillable crop ground, the remainder is native prairie grass. The landowner controls who has access to the property and he leases the grassland to a neighboring rancher for his cowherd to graze. Of course, the landowner is free to sell or gift the land to their heirs or anyone they so choose. But the conservation easement prohibits the native grass from being broken or tilled, it prohibits the property from being subdivided and it prohibits further development on the land.

Much like many other landowners who donate a conservation easement, the couple received a federal income tax deduction for their charitable contribution. An appraisal reported the land's value would diminish once the perpetual conservation easement was filed at the Register of Deeds, but the couple feels so strongly about land conservation that they willingly took the decrease in the value of their land in exchange for keeping it available to future generations for agricultural use and open space.

In this way, the Kansas landowner's gift to his community was the gift of conservation. And all of us here at Ranchland Trust of Kansas are most thankful.