Upstate Forever plans meetings to help public

STATE — Do you have land with important natural, agricultural, or historic resources, or advise someone who does?

Hundreds of landowners of remarkable privately owned forests and farms across our region have chosen to permanently protect their properties though conservation agreements. These lands preserve the rural culture of our region, keep our air and water clean, provide local sources of food, maintain habitat for wildlife and native plant species, protect scenic views, and sometimes preserve important historic lands and structures. We all owe deep gratitude to these landowners, who quietly and faithfully manage these protected private lands that benefit us all.

A conservation agreement (also called a conservation easement) is a contract between a landowner and a qualified land trust, like Upstate Forever, which allows the owner to permanently restrict certain undesirable uses on their property. It is also a useful tool for landowners who plan to gift or sell their land, but want to ensure it remains a farm or forest.

This agreement is permanent and remains with the land even after it has been sold, gifted, or willed to heirs. Conservation agreements typically prevent land uses such as residential subdivisions, commercial or industrial operations, and mining, while allowing traditional rural land uses, such as farming, grazing, hunting, and timbering. The terms of a conservation agreement are negotiable, and vary greatly depending on the landowner’s intentions for their property and the conservation values being protected. A conservation agreement never allows public access unless it is the express desire of the landowner.

There are significant federal, state and estate tax benefits for qualifying landowners who enter into a conservation agreement. These benefits help offset the loss in value between the most profitable use of the property (such as selling the farm for industrial development) and the value under the terms of the conservation agreement, which keeps the land essentially as it is today. The federal tax incentives for conservation were significantly and permanently increased at the end of 2015.

There has never been a better time to learn about your conservation options and the tax benefits they may include. Upstate Forever is presenting a conference in four regional locations to provide a comprehensive overview of conservation agreements and their benefits. These events are March 1, 9 a.m.-noon. at Wade’s Restaurant in Spartanburg; March 1, 3-6 p.m. at Tommy’s Ham House in Greenville; March 3, 9 a.m.-noon at the Lighthouse Restaurant in Seneca; and March 3, 3-6 p.m. at Lee’s Barbecue in Waterloo. The cost is only $20 for landowners and $75 for professionals seeking continuing education credits, and includes a meal. Visit for more information or to register.

Anyone with question about conservation agreements are encouraged to contact us at 864-250-0500 ext. 26 or