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Conserve, steward, and advocate for the unique rural landscape of the Eastern Shore.

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Oxford Family Leaves Bequest to ESLC

Monies Being Used to Leverage Funding Sources to Fund Land Protection

ESLC has announced the receipt of a generous bequest from the estates of William and Mary Thompson of Oxford. Most of the bequest will go toward ESLC’s Stewardship Endowment and matching funds that can be used to leverage County and Federal dollars to protect more farmland.

In an effort to help increase and improve the options available for farmers wishing to protect their land, ESLC has dedicated $200,000 of the bequest to match County contributions towards Federal Farm and Ranchland Protection (FRPP) conservation easement purchases in Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties. Eastern Shore farms are critical to the region’s economy and rural way of life. Interest among farmers in selling development rights has outstripped available funding sources, and that trend is likely to increase as budgets tighten at the local and state level in the next few years.

The FRPP program purchases conservation easements on highly productive farms meeting a rigorous set of criteria. The program pays for 50% of the value of development rights and requires a 50% match, 25% of which must be cash. Often landowners opt to donate remaining 25% of the easement value, and they can take a significant tax deduction for that gift. Using these dedicated private funds, ESLC will match County funds up to 12.5% of the conservation easement purchase price in order to make up the total 25% cash matching requirement. This small contribution of County funds would leverage 87.5% of the funds needed to purchase development rights on prime agricultural lands, bringing in $1.6 million for land protection in that county.

In the recent past, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy has utilized these Federal dollars to protect highly productive farmland on the Marshyhope River and to assist local young farmers in purchasing and protecting high quality farmland.

Part of the Thompson bequest will also go to ESLC’s Stewardship Endowment helps ESLC continue to ensure that conservation easement protections placed on land remain in place forever.

“We were absolutely thrilled to receive this tremendous gift and hope that other Eastern Shore residents will consider ESLC when making their own estate plans,” said ESLC’s Jennifer Pollard, Director of Annual Giving. “What a great way to ensure your legacy and love of the Eastern Shore are cemented.”

A niece of Mr. Thompson said she could not imagine a better use of her uncle’s gift.

“Uncle Bill and my Dad loved the Eastern Shore more than anything. They used to talk about lying on their backs watching the ospreys, walking across the field to wade in the river, being together in the family house in Oxford,” said Christina Donath, Mr. Thompson’s niece. “I know my Dad would be so pleased to hear that Uncle Bill left funds to help save land on the Eastern Shore.”

With the holiday season upon us, ESLC reminds Eastern Shore residents to consider passing along their heritage and love of their home to future generations with a gift to ESLC.

“With the country in an economic crisis, many people are making difficult choices about their charitable giving.,” said Pollard. “We hope our Eastern Shore friends will consider planned giving opportunities as one way to help preserve their heritage – and that of the Eastern Shore – with a donation or bequest to ESLC.”

There are several planned giving options available to Eastern Shore landowners:

» Gifts of Conservation Easements: A conservation easement is a legal agreement between the landowner and ESLC permanently protecting the property. A conservation easement limits the development but leaves ownership and management responsibilities in private hands. ESLC will monitor the property and enforce the easement in perpetuity. The benefit of a gift of a conservation easement is that it may generate income tax, estate tax or property tax savings for you and your heirs as well as assure that your wish for the land’s permanent protection is fulfilled. A well-planned gift may also avoid future conflict over a family-owned estate.

» Bequests: In your Will, you can leave a specific dollar amount, a percentage of your estate, or a specific asset of your estate to ESLC. Bequest provisions in a Will allow you to control the distribution of your estate and to preserve as much of the estate as possible through judicious use of tax-saving opportunities. The most useful type of bequest is unrestricted, permitting ESLC to allocate funds according to need. You may wish, however, to restrict your bequest to a particular program, such as the Land Rescue Revolving Fund, etc. The benefit of a bequest is that it allows you to retain full control of your estate yet gives the satisfaction of knowing that it will ultimately benefit ESLC. A bequest is not subject to state or federal estate taxes or inheritance taxes and can provide you with significant estate tax savings.

For more information about planned giving options or to make an online donation, please visit ESLC’s website at www. eslc.org.

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