Glossary of Terms

Appraisal
A valuation of property rights conducted by a professional real estate appraiser. An appraisal usually involves the comparison of similar properties that have recently sold to determine the value of the subject property. Landowners who donate some or all of the value of a property's rights must have a qualified appraisal to be eligible for federal income tax benefits.

Appraisal Report
The Internal Revenue Code requires a “qualified appraisal” prepared by a “qualified appraiser” for gifts of property, including conservation easements, valued at more than $5,000.

Baseline Document
A collection of photographs (ground and aerial), maps and other descriptions of a property that is developed at the time of the conveyance of a conservation easement. The baseline defines the condition of the property; both the grantor (landowner) and the grantee (conservation agency or organization) sign the document agreeing to its contents as an accurate representation. The baseline is used for annual monitoring and if necessary enforcement of the easement's terms.

Charitable Contribution
A gift of cash or property to a land trust (or other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization). In most cases, the donor can take an itemized tax deduction for the contributions.

Sloan Gorge Preserve TrailConservation Easement
A permanent legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation agency or organization that limits the type and amount of development that is allowed on a parcel of land. In a Conservation Easement, the landowner agrees to convey certain rights to the land (typically division, construction, surface mining and clearcutting of trees, for example; commonly called the "development rights") while retaining ownership and all other rights, including prohibiting public access. The qualified conservation agency or organization is responsible for annually monitoring and enforcing the conservation easement to ensure the protection of the property's conservation values.

The Conservation Easement is tailored to protect the property's conservation values, as well as to meet the needs of the landowner and the land preservation organization’s conservation goals. An easement may be designed to protect rare or endangered species, specific type of habitat or natural features or to protect the agricultural values of property.

Conservation
The care and stewardship of natural resources.

Deed
A legal document by which ownership to land and interests in land are transferred.

Ecosystem
All of the factors that allow a healthy environment to function; the complex relationships among an area's resources, habitats and residents. An ecosystem may include people, wildlife, fish, trees, water and several other living and non-living elements.

Fair market value
The price that a piece of property could earn if sold to an ordinary buyer on the open market.

Sloan Gorge Trail 2Mitigation
Steps taken to reduce or reverse the impact of earlier environmental changes or damage, usually caused by human activities. For example, if logging removed a bird nesting area, mitigation activities might include planting young trees.

Open Space
An undeveloped piece of land adding ecological, scenic or recreational value to an urban area. Open space can be public or private. Examples include forests, marshes and wildlife sanctuaries.

Preservation
Often used interchangeably with conservation. Preservation suggests that natural resources will be left undisturbed, while conservation usually indicates some resource management. (compare conservation)

Property tax
A tax, paid by a landowner, based on the government's estimate of the land's value.

Stewardship
Those steps necessary to preserve a conservation easement in perpetuity, including the creation of baseline documentation reports, regular monitoring, landowner relations including successor generation landowners, addressing amendments and enforcing easements.

Riparian Habitat
Habitat that is next to, or affected by, water sources such as rivers, creeks, lakes and springs. These areas often shelter plants and animals that couldn't survive in nearby areas. (see wetlands)

Wetlands
Lands that are normally saturated with water, such as swamps, marshes and bogs. These areas often host plants and animals specially adapted to life in very wet conditions. (see riparian habitat)