This glossary defines some of the special words found on this Web site. Use the letter-guides to jump to the appropriate section of the glossary.
[A-C] [D-E] [F-M] [N-P] [Q-S] [T-Z]
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bargain sale Sale of a property at less than the fair market value. The difference between a bargain sale price and fair market value often qualifies as a tax-deductible charitable contribution.
bequest A gift made through a person's will. Land can be given to a trust through a bequest. In such cases, the value of the land is excluded from estate tax calculations.
capital gains Profits made on the sale of land; the difference between the original cost of the land and the selling price. For example, if a woman buys a house for $10,000 and sells it for $15,000, she will owe taxes on the gain in capital of $5,000.
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.
conservation Protection of land and related natural resources; may also refer to the management of resources to protect future value. (compare preservation)
conservation easement A legal agreement allowing a landowner to transfer selected property rights to a land trust. The landowner retains title to the property. The easement becomes part of the land deed, meaning that all future property owners will be bound by the terms of the easement. (see title)
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donor A person who makes a charitable contribution to a land trust. The contribution can be a gift of land, property rights or funding.
easement The right to go onto another person's private property or use that property for a specific purpose; a right of way. An easement must be granted by the landowner. (see conservation easement)
environmental impact A change in the environment that could have a negative effect on the ecosystem. Land trusts try to prevent environmental impacts by conserving sensitive lands.
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.
estate tax When a person dies, all of the property and assets they leave behind are called an estate. The estate is evaluated and taxed before it is transferred to the dead person's heirs. If a person died in 2001, with no assets except a piece of land valued at $1 million, the estate could owe $178,750 in taxes.
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fair market value The price that a piece of property could earn if sold to an ordinary buyer on the open market.
fee simple (also fee interest or fee simple interest) A way of describing full ownership of a piece of land, including all of the legal rights of the property. The word "fee" comes from an old English word meaning "land that can be inherited." Less than fee interest is ownership with restricted rights. A person buying land that already has a conservation easement is getting less than fee interest.
greenspace A term applied to certain urban areas, including parks, preserves and public or private lands. In general these places are over an acre large, are well separated from manmade developments and contain forests, gardens, grass or other foliage.
in perpetuity Always; forever.
land-use plan A blueprint for the future development of a state, county or city, intended to help manage growth. A plan may consider roads, public facilities, the use of commercial, residential and industrial, and the need for open space.
mitigation 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.
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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.
outright donation A landowner gives all (or part) of their interest in a property to a land trust; the trust makes no payment for the land or easement. The donor typically gains tax benefits for making a charitable contribution.
outright purchace On occasion a land trust may pay full price for fee simple ownership of a property. This is expensive for the trust, but may be necessary to conserve an environmentally important piece of land. The seller receives no tax benefits.
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.
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remainder interest (also reserved life estate) A landowner may transfer a property to a land trust, but keep the right to live on the land until his or her death. This means that the landowner still has the primary claim to the land and the trust holds the remainder. Full ownership is not transferred to the trust until after the donor's death.
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)
steward A person who manages property on behalf of someone else; an administrator. Stewardship is the act of managing resources; the long-term responsibility for the care and management of land.
sustainable development A philosophy of resource use and management intended to meet society's present needs without compromising the resource for future generations.
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title The legal document that proves ownership interest in a piece of land. A title is transferred from one person to another by the use of a deed.
Urban Growth Boundary Most land-use plans include an Urban Growth Boundary (UGB). A UGB is an imaginary line that separates areas where development is allowed and areas where development is restricted. UGBs encourage development in existing urban areas and preservation of land outside the boundary.
watershed The entire area of land that collects and drains water (from snow and rain) into a single river or similar body of water.
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)