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Farm Conservation: Tax Credit Helps Protect Royalston Land

Royalston musician Diane Lincoln, who performs around New England and at selected events outside the region as Linq, has donated a conservation restriction to Mount Grace on her 45-acre property.  Previously a small dairy farm, the land had grown up into early successional forest.  After buying the land in 1981, Diane brought back 2 ½ acres of pasture and fenced it for horses and kept the remaining woods, which slope down to a large wetland, as they were.

In September 2011, when Massachusetts released the rules for a new Conservation Land Tax Credit Program offering refundable state income tax credits in exchange for land and conservation easement donations, land trusts around the state responded immediately.  Few were more successful than Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, which helped five landowners, including Diane, qualify for the program that year.

The newly-conserved land is between the Tully Mountain Wildlife Management Area and the Royalston State Forest, so protecting the land strengthens the corridor of open space connecting the two forests.  The property also has the headwaters of Collar Brook, which flows into the Tully River.  Diane has seen signs of bear, deer, porcupine and moose on the land.

 “I spoke with Leigh about protecting this land more than once in past years,” says Diane.  “I’ve been concerned about protecting this land since moving here, but the tax credit helped cover some of the costs of conservation to make it possible to protect the land this year.”

Lincoln's charitable contribution is eligible for the state's conservation land tax credit. Under the program, Massachusetts land protected in perpetuity can qualify for a refundable state income tax credit of half the appraised value of the donation, up to $50,000. Annual funding for the program is capped at $2 million.  Starting January 1, the program will operate on a first-come, first-served basis, and Mount Grace is actively seeking interested landowners to participate. 

Youngblood also highlighted the importance of the tax credit for future conservation.  “In 2013 the increasingly well-known program will operate on a first-come, first-served basis.  Mount Grace is actively encouraging interested landowners like Diane to participate.  If your land qualifies for the program, you can receive half the appraised value of the land or easement, up to $50,000, as a tax credit which is mailed to you in the form of a check, even if you don’t usually need to file a Massachusetts tax return.”

If you are interested in conserving your land in partnership with the Conservation Land Tax Credit Program, please contact Land Conservation Associate Sarah Wells at 978-248-2055 x23 or wells@