The IRS is involved and interested in land conservation. The agency provides incentives, namely tax deductions, and enforces compliance with the tax code for tax deductions identified as conservation contributions. A conservation contribution is defined by the Internal Revenue Code § 170(h).
(1) A “qualified conservation contribution
” means a contribution
Of a qualified real property interest,
To a qualified organization,
Exclusively for conservation purposes.
(2) A “qualified real property interest
” means any of the following interests in real property:
The entire interest of the donor other than a qualified mineral interest,
A remainder interest, and
A restriction (granted in perpetuity) on the use which may be made of the real property.
(3) A “qualified organization
” means an organization which—
Is described in clause (v) or (vi) of subsection (b)(1)(A), or
Is described in section 501(c)(3) and—(i) meets the requirements of section 509(a)(2), or(ii) meets the requirements of section 509(a)(3) and is controlled by an organization described in subparagraph (A) or in clause (i) of this subparagraph.
(4) A “conservation purposes
(i) the preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by, or the education of, the general public,
(ii) the protection of a relatively natural habitat of fish, wildlife, or plants, or similar ecosystem,
(iii) the preservation of open space (including farmland and forest land) where such preservation is—
(I) for the scenic enjoyment of the general public, or
(II) pursuant to a clearly delineated Federal, State, or local governmental conservation policy, and will yield a significant public benefit, or
(iv) the preservation of a historically important land area or a certified historic structure.
(5) A contribution shall not be treated as exclusively for conservation purposes unless the conservation purpose is protected in perpetuity
(i) Except as provided in clause (ii), in the case of a contribution of any interest where there is a retention of a qualified mineral interest, subparagraph (A) shall not be treated as met if at any time there may be extraction or removal of minerals by any surface mining method.
(ii) With respect to any contribution of property in which the ownership of the surface estate and mineral interests has been and remains separated, subparagraph (A) shall be treated as met if the probability of surface mining occurring on such property is so remote as to be negligible.
(6) A “qualified mineral interest” means—
(i) subsurface oil, gas, or other minerals, and
(ii) the right to access to such minerals.