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Murtha Cullina is a leader in the field of land conservation.

Our environmental and estate planning attorneys often collaborate to counsel business owners, municipalities, charitable organizations and property owners on all aspects of the preservation of open space, forest and agricultural lands. Often, owners’ goals include securing income and estate tax benefits.

Our conservation practice involves all aspects of transactions designed to protect property from development, with a focus on sophisticated conservation easement matters. Conservation easements are a flexible tool for extinguishing defined development rights for a property in a manner that allows the property owner to continue to own and use the land subject to the development restrictions. Conservation easement deals can involve the purchase or sale of easement interests, the donation of development rights, or bargain sale scenarios. In donation and bargain sale scenarios, our services include careful tax planning to meet applicable Internal Revenue Service tests (e.g., the "conservation purposes" test) and other requirements such that donors may qualify for significant income tax deductions and reductions in estate and property taxes.

Related Information

  • Assisted a client in selling a conservation easement over a 5,300 acre working forest in Connecticut under the auspices of the United States Forest Service Forest Legacy Program. 

  • Assisted a forest resource company in the purchase of multiple parcels totaling thousands of acres in Massachusetts, and the subsequent sale of conservation easements over most of such parcels to Commonwealth of Massachusetts agencies, water companies and private foundations. 

  • Represented dozens of property owners in the donation of development rights in the form of conservation easements in exchange for significant tax benefits. 

  • Represented water companies in numerous transactions involving the purchase of development rights for important lands within their watershed in order to protect vital water supplies. 

  • Represented private grant-making foundation in negotiating conservation easement terms for easements covering large expanses (hundreds of thousand of acres) of working forest in the northern woods of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. 

  • Assisted a state-wide agricultural conservation organization in numerous conservation easement deals throughout Connecticut on working farmlands, some of which involve funding from the Natural Resource Conservation Service. 

  • Represented a number of local land trusts in repeat transactions to acquire lands or conservation easements over key properties.