Protecting our place in the world

Photo by Cate Moore

As we have all been adjusting our lives to a new normal, one thing is constant: it is because of people like you that land, water, and the scenic beauty of this region are protected, providing us so many ways to practice social distancing–in nature.

Protecting land is at the core of mission — The Weeks Bay Foundation works with public and private partners to preserve land in perpetuity and protect the natural resources in coastal Alabama. Since its founding in 1990 to support the Weeks Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Foundation has protected more than 9,500 acres of unique habitat.

Our land protection efforts positively impact the long-term health and wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in Mobile and Baldwin counties. How? By protecting clean water, air quality, seafood supply, wildlife habitats, and so much more. Saving land also prevents runoff from entering rivers and streams, and protects wetlands on the edges of bays and inlets, wetlands that prevent storm surge and flooding. Our land protection efforts also ensure the preservation of the scenic beauty and the outdoor recreation opportunities in our communities.

How We Protect Land
The Weeks Bay Foundation partners with voluntary private landowners, municipalities, and other organizations to protect land in three ways—conservation easements, land donations, and land purchases.

CONSERVATION EASEMENTS — When landowners want to keep ownership of a property but also want to protect the important natural, scenic, and historic resources, they can place a conservation easement on their land. Conservation easements offer private landowners flexibility in protecting their land. For example, a landowner can retain the right to grow crops on a parcel, or build boardwalks and trails while, at the same time relinquishing the right to subdivide or build additional structures on the property.

The landowners work with the Foundation, an accredited land trust, to set easement terms that accommodate their future plans, as long as the easement protects important resources on their land. To qualify for tax incentives, the conservation easement must provide significant public benefit such as water quality maintenance or shoreline protection, wildlife habitat, scenic views, historic preservation, flood control, farmland preservation, and outdoor recreation.

DONATE LAND — Some landowners wish to create a lasting legacy for future generations by donating all or part of their land to the Foundation to be protected in perpetuity, making the donor eligible for tax benefits. As a land trust, we would hold the land as a permanent preserve or transfer the property to the state of Alabama’s Forever Wild program. A donation of land to a nonprofit land trust is tax deductible as a charitable gift.

LAND PURCHASES — In specific instances, the Weeks Bay Foundation may purchase a piece of land if it is deemed to have significant conservation value and be at imminent risk of development. In these cases, landowners agree to sell their land at no more than the appraised value, and, in some instances, might then quality for tax benefits.

As we look to the next 30 years of land protection in south Alabama, we hope you will continue your support, become a member, and advocate for a clean, healthy environment. For more information about protecting your land, contact Connie Whitaker, executive director, at connie@weeksbay.org or by calling 251-990-5004.


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