Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites .

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Conservation Easements:Protecting Archaeological Sites andHistoric Buildings on Private LandsBureau of Archaeological ResearchDivision of Historical ResourcesConservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands1

2Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands

IntroductionFlorida is home to a rich variety of historical and cultural resources. Theyinclude 12,000 year old Native American sites, the remains of earlyEuropean settlements, and more recently, Mediterranean Revival homes andArt Deco buildings. While many significant historic structures andarchaeological sites are in public ownership, private landholders ownsignificantly more, and thus, are able to preserve these tangible remains ofFlorida’s past for the future. If you own an historic building or anarchaeological site, you can play an active role in its preservation by placinga conservation easement on your property. A conservation easement offersproperty owners flexibility in land management while at the same timeprotecting some of Florida’s history. Additionally, it can afford propertyowners tax benefits.Conlin Island conservation easement,located in Lake Iamonia nearTallahassee, FL, includes the protectionof cultural resources. State of Floridaarchaeologists found this artifact atConlin Island during an archaeologicalsurvey conducted in partnership withRed Hills Conservation Program of TallTimbers Research Station. The artifact isa pinched-rim sherd of Lake Jackson Plainstyle, placing it in the Ft. Walton Period,ca. 1250-1450 AD. Norwood Plain andDeptford Plain sherds, along with lithicartifacts recovered suggest that ConlinIsland may have been inhabited as early as 2500 years ago. Often surveys areconducted on conservation easements to determine what resources exist onthe property and where they are located. The Conlin Island ConservationEasement map (next page) shows the location of archaeologically sensitiveareas found during the archaeological survey of the island. Each propertybeing placed under conservation easement is assessed based on the needs ofthe owner. Sometimes extensive surveys will be conducted, and, other times,just a walk around the property is all that is required.Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands3

What is a conservation easement?Conservation easements may apply to a variety of resources. Broadlyapplied, a conservation easement is a legal agreement a property ownermakes with a nonprofit or government organization to protect cultural andnatural resources on his property. A property owner holds a certain numberof rights, such as the right to subdivide his land, restrict its access, orconstruct a building on it. By agreeing to place property under a conservationeasement, the property owner, or “grantor,” agrees to donate, lease, or sellsome or all of these rights to a nonprofit organization. This organization4Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands

becomes the easement holder or “grantee,” who is responsible for monitoringthe property for activities that would be contrary to the conditions of theeasement. Depending on the resources they protect, conservation easementsare known by several different names. For example, an agricultural easementwould protect a family farm. Types of conservation easements commonlyused to protect historic buildings and archaeological sites are the primaryfocus of this pamphlet and include historic preservation easements and openspace or scenic easements.Why place a conservation easementon your property?Conservation easements are uniquely tailored to meet the needs of theindividual property owner. They allow property owners to protect specificresources on their property while retaining ownership. An owner can choosewhich portions of the property he wishes to protect and which to excludefrom protective covenants of the easement. He may also wish to allowlimited public access, such as historic house tours or recreational activities,like hunting and fishing, provided they do not endanger the protected area ofthe property. Such limitations would be included in the terms of theeasement.Creating historic preservation easements and open space and sceniceasements on your property may ensure the preservation of historicalresources as a legacy for future generations. Furthermore, they have thepotential, through public access, to provide a community with manyeducational benefits. Economic benefits to conservation easements also exist.Tax incentives may include reduction in property, estate, and federalincome taxes.Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands5

What types of conservation easements protecthistorical and cultural resources and how arethey used?Historic preservation easements and open space or scenic easements aregenerally used to protect historic structures and archaeological sites.Historic Preservation EasementsHistoric preservation easements may protect both historic structures andarchaeological sites. There are two categories of historic preservationeasements.1. Exterior or Façade EasementsThis type of easement protects the outside appearance of a building.Usually it restricts alterations or additions to a structure that mayharm its integrity and historic character.The Matheson House, in Gainesville, FL, is held under an exterior or facade easement bythe Florida Trust for Historic Preservation.Typically, the lot and air rights (development rights for construction ofadditional stories to a building) are covered by this easement. For example,an owner would agree not to add stories or additions to his property, if thealterations would change the appearance of the building and compromise itsarchitectural style and historic quality.6Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands

2. Interior EasementsThis type of easement protects some or all of the interior of abuilding. It has the most utility in commercial, public access areaswhere preservation of historic interior elements is required by theSecretary of the Interior’s Rehabilitation Guidelines. Compliancewith these guidelines is necessary to qualify for federal investmenttax credits.Open Space or Scenic EasementsThis type of easement protects the open space or scenic vista associated witha historic structure to preserve its historic character. Open space or sceniceasements are also commonly used to protect archaeological sites,particularly incases where anarchaeological sitecannot qualify fora historicpreservationeasement under theIRS code.Top: While surveying FoshaleePlantation conservation easementnear Tallahassee, State of Floridaarchaeologists locate artifacts anduse Global Positioning System(GPS) to map the location ofartifacts.Open space and sceniceasements protect historicAbove: A cemetery is recorded while surveying Foshalee.structures andarchaeological sites by prohibiting activities that would negatively affect theappearance of a landscape, and, in turn, the cultural resources associated withit. For example, the construction of a housing development would have anegative impact on the integrity of an open pasture. Placing the pastureunder an open space easement would not only protect it and its scenic vista,but also an archaeological site that might be located there. Open space andConservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands7

scenic easements also qualify for federal income tax deductions under theIRS code.Development restrictions for archaeological sites need only prohibit activitiesthat would disturb archaeological remains. Easement terms protecting anarchaeological site located in an open field may stipulate that the field maybe plowed for farming purposes, as long as the depth of the plowing does notpenetrate the site. Similarly, a parking lot or golf course fairway may cover asite, allowing the area to be used while protecting the site. Installation of anin-ground pool, for example, would be restricted to areas of a property thatare outside of the boundaries of the protected site.The grantor can also limit road and other construction activities, dumping ofwaste, land clearing, damming of streams or filling of wetlands, and theplacement of most signage, to protect the aesthetic quality and historic andcultural character of the property.What should a Conservation Easement include?Conservation easements protecting historic structures andarchaeological sites should include the following information: An introduction explaining the reason for creating the easement A section explaining the historic importance of the property A description of the intentions of both the donor and holderof the easement A precise legal description of the land and accompanyingphotographic documentation. This section is extremely important,as it defines the legal boundaries of the easement A series of regulations and protective measures, as well as adescription of the affected parts of the property An explanation of site monitoring A clause concerning potential default on a mortgage A clause providing enforcement of the easement by its holders.Most easements are crafted so that the easement holder has final approvalover any changes made by the owner that may affect the protected area.8Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands

What are the tax incentives for conveyingan easement?Three types of tax benefits are available to owners who wish to place theirproperty under a protective easement. These are:1. Property taxesPlacing a property under an easement lowers the property’s fair market valuebecause it restricts the use of the land. This can result in a reduction ofproperty taxes. State and local law as well as individual tax assessmentdetermine the amount of this reduction. Florida law requires propertyappraisers to recognize the reduced market value of a property undereasement. (See Sections 193.501 and 193.503, Florida Statutes).2. Estate taxesConservation easements allow families to permanently protect their landwithout giving up ownership. Children who have inherited land from theirfamilies often cannot afford the estate taxes and are forced to sell it. Byplacing an easement on family land that restricts its future development, theproperty’s overall value is reduced, which results in lower taxes.3. Federal income taxesA property owner who donates a conservation easement may be eligible for afederal income tax deduction if the property under easement meets specificcriteria. According to the IRS code, to be eligible for a federal income taxdeduction, the easement must be donated in perpetuity to a qualifiedorganization such as an historical society or a land trust, and for conservationpurposes only. The IRS code allows tax deductions for donation ofconservation easements in five resource categories: recreation and/or educationsignificant natural resourcescenic enjoymentpursuant to local government policyhistoric preservationTwo types of cultural resources qualify for historic preservation income taxdeductions. These are a “historically important land area” and a “certifiedhistoric structure.” To be considered “historically important,” properties mustConservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands9

meet National Register criteria or be associated with a National Registerlisted property. This can include a battlefield, a standing structure or anarchaeological site. A certified historic structure is one placed on theNational Register of Historic Places or listed as a contributing element to aNational Register district as certified by the Secretary of the Interior.In order to receive an income tax deduction using the historic preservationresource category, the property must also be accessible to the public.Accessibility to the public can be as simple as maintaining visibility from theright of way of a property, or in the case of an interior easement, opening thebuilding up for tours.In some cases, archaeological sites fall under “scenic enjoyment” because ofthe broad definition the IRS code applies to this resource category. The IRScode, also through broad application, allows archaeological sites to becategorized pursuant to the local government policy. The federal governmentrecognizes local governmental efforts to conserve open spaces, as long aslocal government, at any level, clearly delineates the types of open spaces itwants to protect.Florida has established laws pertaining to conservation easements. Section704.06, Florida Statutes, defines a conservation easement as “a right orinterest in real property which is appropriate to retaining land or water areaspredominantly in their natural, scenic, open, agricultural, or woodedcondition; retaining such areas as suitable habitat for fish, plants, or wildlife;retaining the structural integrity or physical appearance of sites or propertiesof historical, architectural, archaeological, or cultural significance; ormaintaining existing land uses.” The law also stipulates that conservationeasements: are perpetual, undivided interests in the property. are held by governmental agencies or bodies or by non-profitorganizations. will always be part of the deed and be binding for all future owners. can be enforced either through an injunction or proceeding. may provide for a third-party right of enforcement(such as a site steward).10Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands

can be affected by actions taken by the owner of the property, theholder of the easement, the person of group designated as havingthe third-party right of enforcement, or person authorized byanother law.How can donating an easement reduce aproperty owner’s income tax?The value of an easement donation determines the federal income taxdeduction. The value of the easement donation is the calculated differencebetween the property’s fair market value without easement restrictions and itsfair market value with easement restrictions. According to the IRS code, anyowner who makes a charitable donation of property is eligible to deduct up to30 percent of his adjusted gross income each year, for a total of 6 years, oruntil the full amount of the donation has been deducted.Example:* Appraised fair market value of the property without easement: 600,000* Appraised fair market value of the property with easement: 500,000* Amount of easement donation: 100,000* The property owner is entitled to a charitable deduction of 100,000* Annual adjusted gross income: 50,000.00 x 30% 15,000.00* The owner can deduct annually 15,000.00 until 100,000 has beenreached, or until 6 years elapses, for a total of 90,000Property owners may be eligible for other tax savings and should contact atax lawyer for further information and advice. It is also important toremember that to be eligible to receive federal income tax benefits using thehistoric preservation resource category, archaeological sites and historicstructures must be eligible for or listed on the National Register of HistoricPlaces. Contact the Division of Historical Resources for information on theNational Register program.Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands11

Where to go from here?Contact an attorneyIf you are interested in having an easement placed on your land you shouldconsult with an attorney. An attorney can advise you of your easementoptions, your rights and responsibilities, and how to make appropriatedecisions regarding the ownership and value of your property.Contact Division of Historical ResourcesArchaeologists and historic preservationists located at the state office canprovide you with professional assistance and information on identifying,documenting, and evaluating the significance of an historic building orarchaeological site that is located on your property. They can also assist youin determining the National Register status of your site and how to bestmanage and protect it.Florida Division of Historical ResourcesR. A. Gray Building500 South Bronough StreetTallahassee, FL 32399-0250(850) 245-6300www.flheritage.comContact a land-trust organizationLandtrusts are private, nonprofit conservation organizations that can help youcreate a conservation easement that meets your needs. They can also directyou to historic preservation organizations, attorneys, and accountants. Thefollowing land-trust organizations hold conservation easements to protecthistoric and archaeological resources within the state of Florida:Florida Land Trust Network1129 Alamanda LaneStuart, Florida 34996(772) 219-345712Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands

Florida Trust for Historic PreservationP.O. Box 11206Tallahassee, FL 32303(850) Hills Conservation ProgramTall Timbers Research StationRoute 1, Box 678Tallahassee, FL 32312(850) 893-4153www.talltimbers.orgAlso, contact your local municipal or county government to inquire ifthey hold conservation easements to protect archaeological sites.The Red Hills Conservation Program protects the Bannerman house, near Tallahassee, Florida underan exterior or facade easement.Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands13

Related Internet SitesFlorida Division of Historical Resources: http://www.flheritage.comLand Trust Alliance: http://www.lta.orgTrust for Public Land: http://www.tpl.orgTechnical Preservation Services for Historic Buildings, ional Trust for Historic Preservation: http://www.nationaltrust.orgFlorida State Statutes: readingBarrett, Thomas S. and Stefan Nagel1996Model Conservation Easement and Historic Preservation Easement, 1996. LandTrust Alliance, Washington, D.C.Diehl, Janet and Thomas S. Barrett1988The Conservation Easement Handbook: Managing Land Conservation andHistoric Preservation Easement Programs. Land Trust Exchange and Trust forPublic Land, Alexandria, VA.Henry, Susan1993Protecting Archaeological Sites on Private Lands. U.S. Department of the Interior,Washington D.C.Hutchinson, Robert and Nina L Mattei1991Land Preservation for Floridians. The Florida Land Trust Association,Gainesville, FL.Land Trust Alliance1996Conservation Options: A Landowner’s Guide. Washington D.C.Land TrustAlliance & National Trust for Historic Preservation1990Appraising Easements: Guidelines for the Valuation of Historic Preservation andLand Conservation Easements. Land Trust Alliance, Washington, D.C.Lind, Brenda1991The Conservation Stewardship Guide: Designing, Monitoring, and EnforcingEasements. Land Trust Alliance and Trust for New Hampshire Lands,Washington, D.C.14Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands

Small, Stephen J.1992Preserving Family Lands: A Landowner’s Introduction to Tax Issues and OtherConsiderations. Landowner Planning Center, Boston, MA.U.S. Department of the Interior1997Historic Preservation Easements: A Historic Preservation Tool with Federal TaxBenefits. National Park Service, Washington, D.C.Archaeological remains of Verdura, a plantation home in Leon County, Florida. A few classicallystyled pillars are still standing. (Photography courtesy of Florida Memory Project: FloridaPhotographic Collection.)Conservation Easements: Protecting Archaeological Sites and Historic Buildings on Private Lands15

For more information on protecting culturalresources in Florida, like Site Stewardship, SiteWatch, public access to sites, and generalin

a historic structure to preserve its historic character. Open space or scenic easements are also commonly used to protect archaeological sites, particularly in cases where an archaeological site cannot qualify for a historic preservation easement under the IRS code. Open space and scenic e

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