The Fire Island Land Trust was established in 2006 by Fire Island property owners to provide a mechanism for private participation in voluntary land conservation and foster environmental stewardship of the barrier island.  We work with landowners, communities, and municipalities to preserve vulnerable areas of Fire Island before they are lost forever to unwise development or environmental threats.


We are dedicated to protect open space and historic places on Fire Island.  The Board of Directors recognizes that the Fire Island National Seashore (National Park Service) simply does not have the capacity to act or the budget to protect vulnerable areas of Fire Island.  In fact, resource protection is consistently the least funded area for the Park Service.  Thus, we aim to fill the gap and ensure that Fire Island and its seventeen communities remain vibrant into the future.
 
Photo Credit To Ed Sambolin

For more information on the budget shortfalls of the Fire Island National Seashore, click here for the most recent Fire Island National Seashore Business Plan

The Fire Island Land Trust believes in a future where private landowners play a substantive role in the stewardship and governance of the environments in which we live, work and play -- working together with public interests to protect and preserve natural resources and scenic beauty, while simultaneously assuring the future of the vibrant coastal communities on Fire Island, New York, for the benefit of future generations.

  Habitat: Preservation result in a notably positive impact on natural habitat for wildlife
Scenic View and Public Access: Preservation provides for scenic views and access to the beach
Maintain Buffer Zones: Preservation increases community resilience to storms and erosion by protecting dunes.  For more on dunes from the Park Service, click here
Enhance Public Health: Preservation is shown to significantly increase the health of a community and provide many other benefits for landowners.  For a seminal report on the value of conservation from the Trust for Public Land, click here
Historic Value: Preservation of historically significant areas or structures benefits the community at large
Community character:  Preservation avoids negative precedents that may forever change the characteristics and feeling of a community.

The Land Trust enables landowners to make sure their wishes for the future of their property will be realized.  There are also possible tax benefits for donors from creating a charitable gift or bargain sale of their land.  Land gifts may be any one of a wide variety narrowly tailored to the individual needs and desires of the landowner.  Click on the links below to find out more about each conservation option:

Donation for Conservation Purpose
Donating land for conservation purposes is truly one of the finest legacies a person can leave to future generations. It may be the best conservation strategy for you if you do not wish to pass the land on to heirs; own property you no longer use; own highly appreciated property; have substantial real estate holdings and wish to reduce estate tax burdens; or would like to be relieved of the responsibility of managing and caring for land.

Donating land releases you from the responsibility of managing the land and can provide substantial income tax deductions and estate tax benefits (while avoiding any capital gains taxes that would have resulted from selling the property). Most important, if the land is donated because of its conservation value, it will be protected. (Although our focus here is on conservation land, commercial and residential properties can also be donated to a land trust, with the understanding that the organization will sell the land to support its conservation work.)

An outright donation is not the only way to give land. You can continue to live on the land by donating a remainder interest and retaining a reserved life estate. In this arrangement, you donate the property during your lifetime, but continue to live on and use the property. When you die (or sooner if you choose), the land trust gains full title and control over the property.
Bargain Sale of Land
If you need to realize some immediate income from selling your land, yet would like the property to go to a land trust, a bargain sale might be the answer. In a bargain sale, you sell the land to a land trust for less than its fair market value. This not only makes it more affordable for the land trust, but offers several benefits to you: it provides cash, avoids some capital gains tax, and entitles you to a charitable income tax deduction based on the difference between the land's fair market value and its sale price.
Land Donations That Establish a Life Income
If you have land you would like to protect by donating it to a land trust, but need to receive income during your lifetime, you might use a charitable gift annuity. In a charitable gift annuity, you agree to transfer certain property to a charity, and the charity agrees to make regular annuity payments to one or two beneficiaries you specify for life.

Your gift of land usually qualifies for a charitable income tax deduction at the time of the gift, based on the value of the land less the expected value of the annuity payments.

Another option for donating property and receiving regular income is a charitable remainder unitrust. You place the land in a trust, first putting a conservation easement on it if it is to be protected. Then the trustee sells the land and invests the net proceeds from the sale. One or more beneficiaries you specify receive payments each year for a fixed term or for life, then the trustee turns the remaining funds in the trust over to the land trust.

The gift qualifies for a charitable income tax deduction when the land is put in the trust, based on the value of the land less the expected value of the payments.

Charitable gift annuities and charitable remainder unitrusts are most useful for highly appreciated land, the sale of which would incur high capital gains tax.
Conservation Easements
A conservation easement (or conservation restriction) is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows you to continue to own and use your land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs.

When you donate a conservation easement to a land trust, you give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional structures, while retaining the right to grow crops. Future owners also will be bound by the easement's terms. The land trust is responsible for making sure the easement's terms are followed.

Conservation easements offer great flexibility. An easement on property containing rare wildlife habitat might prohibit any development, for example, while one on a farm might allow continued farming and the building of additional agricultural structures. An easement may apply to just a portion of the property, and need not require public access.

A landowner sometimes sells a conservation easement, but usually easements are donated. If the donation benefits the public by permanently protecting important conservation resources and meets other federal tax code requirements--it can qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation. The amount of the donation is the difference between the land's value with the easement and its value without the easement.

Placing an easement on your property may also result in property tax savings.

Perhaps most important, a conservation easement can be essential for passing land on to the next generation. By removing the land's development potential, the easement lowers its market value, which in turn lowers estate tax. Whether the easement is donated during life or by will, it can make a critical difference in the heirs' ability to keep the land intact.

For more information on conservation easements and how it would work for your parcel on Fire Island, please visit the frequently asked question page or click here to contact us.

Our budget consists solely of charitable donations, foundations, and grants.  To the extent that it can, the Fire Island Land Trust will undertake land transactions through coalitions with other not-for-profit groups and with government entities.
The Fire Island Land Trust is thankful to the Long Island Community Foundation, the Norcross Foundation, and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program for its continued support.  We are also proud to be a member land trust of the Land Trust Alliance, a network of over 1,600 land trusts around the nation.  This website was made possible through a grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program.