Bald Head Island Conservancy

Land Donation and Preservation

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Thank you for your interest in land preservation on Bald Head Island.  The Bald Head Island Conservancy (BHIC) and the Smith Island Land Trust (SILT) value your trust in our stewardship. 

We look forward to your joining us in our commitment to preserving Bald Head Island’s priceless natural resources for generations to come.  Rest assured, SILT will be fully committed to the stewardship of your parcel, in perpetuity, once the property transfer process has been completed. 


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Smith Island Land Trust and the Conservancy

SILT serves as the land preservation arm of the BHIC. The two entities are separate 501(c)(3) organizations, each with their own Board of Directors and By-Laws. The two organizations work closely together; the President of SILT serves on the BHIC Board, the BHIC President serves on the SILT Board, and the Executive Director of the BHIC currently serves as the Executive Director of SILT. 

In addition to a shared leadership and vision for the conservation of BHI’s natural resources, there is an Operating Agreement between the two organizations which clearly defines the operational and financial expectations of the relationship.


Stewardship Costs 

There are recurring, annual costs for the stewardship of all SILT properties to cover inspections and general land maintenance (trash removal, bollard/sign repair, etc.).  As such, a one time, tax deductible donation of a minimum of $1,000 per lot is required for accepting any donated property. These gifts are placed in a restricted account (overseen and maintained by the SILT Treasurer) and the interest generated annually is used to support the future stewardship costs associated with the donated property.

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Conservation Easements 

SILT is committed to maintaining all donated properties in their natural state.  

If you would like to ensure that this stewardship is reinforced by state law, and maintained in perpetuity beyond the lifetime of SILT, you can add a Conservation Easement to the donated property.  

Most of SILT’s properties on BHI have conservation easements, but the addition of an easement is not required for donation.

Environmental and Legal Assessments 

After the intentions of the donation have been clarified between SILT and the Donor, the Donor provides the SILT Board with a formal letter/email of intent to donate the property that acknowledges that the Donor will be responsible for all applicable fees (deed transaction costs, appraisal, boundary survey, and taxes through date when SILT takes ownership).  Upon receipt of the letter, the BHIC staff will perform the following actions: 

  1. Verify that the prospective Donor is the current owner of the lot.
  2. Confirm by staff or by title opinion that there are no restrictions or mortgages on the parcel.
  3. Secure an accurate legal description of the parcel.
  4. Conduct a preliminary conservation assessment of the property which includes general land condition.  In rare cases, an Environmental Transaction Screening (ETS) and/or Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is required.  The purpose of the ETS/ESA is to ensure that the property is free of any legacy environmental issue for which SILT would assume legal responsibility. The ETS/ESA must be performed by a third-party land management agency, and the Donor would be responsible for this cost by making a donation to SILT’s stewardship restricted account. 

The results of these actions will be circulated among the SILT Board who will then vote on whether to approve moving forward with the transaction.  Please be aware that any information that is received by SILT will be kept confidential and only be divulged if required by law.

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Appraisal and Title Opinion of Property 

All Donors must provide SILT with a current property appraisal (appraiser should have expertise in property donations to land trusts), boundary survey (if needed), and title opinion. The appraisal is important as it forms the basis for any income tax deduction taken by the Donor. The SILT Board of Directors cannot authorize the final acceptance of a property until after a qualified appraisal has been delivered.

As noted above it is imperative that the appraisal be performed by an individual or firm that specializes in property donations. The Appraiser must issue a Qualified Appraisal as defined by IRS regulations. We suggest forwarding this link to the appraiser.

Neither SILT or BHIC or their staff or Directors make any representation as to the amount of any income tax deduction that you may take. We urge you to please consult your tax advisor and counsel on these and related matters and to make sure your appraiser is well versed and qualified to comply with all aspects of the IRS regulations concerning these types of appraisals.

Deed Transfer and Fee Payment 

An attorney of your choice will conduct a title search, prepare a gift deed, and then record the signed deed with Brunswick County. All transaction fees associated with deed transfer shall be paid by the Donor. Once the deed has been received at Brunswick County, the Bald Head Island Conservancy staff will prepare Form 8283 for the Donor’s CPA and file Form AV-10 for Brunswick County tax exemption status. 

If a conservation easement is to be placed on the property, this will occur after the property has been transferred to SILT, provided the Donor has agreed to pay any additional stewardship fees related to the establishment of the easement.

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To begin the donation process, fill out the form below.  The officers and staff of the Smith Island Land Trust will be happy to answer any questions you might have, and help you through the process of land donation.

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