How can I become a member and make a donation to Block Island Conservancy?

BIC is a membership organization, open to all that share common concern for the preservation of Block Island’s open spaces. We depend solely on the financial support of our donors.
Click Here to Donate Online!

Printable Donation Form (PDF)

Will I qualify for a Tax Deduction?

A landowner sometimes sells a conservation easement, but usually easements are donated to a land trust. If the donation benefits the public by permanently protecting important conservation resources, and meets other federal tax code requirements, it can qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation. Easement values vary greatly; in general, the highest easement values result from very restrictive conservation easements on tracts of developable open space under intense development pressure. In some jurisdictions, placing an easement on your property may also result in property tax savings. (Land Trust Alliance)

What is a Conservation Easement?

Here is a wonderful win-win situation to consider. If you own real estate property, you can give or sell at a bargain price a conservation easement to a conservancy organization like Block Island Conservancy. You would continue to be the owner of the property, and it can always be sold or passed on to heirs. You may wish, however, that the property never be developed or changed. This is what the conservation easement is all about, and it can significantly help you tax-wise. Already many easements are in place forever all over Block Island.

According to Land Trust Alliance, a conservation easement (or conservation restriction) is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land, and they can also sell it or pass it on to heirs. An easement may apply to all or a portion of the property, and need not require public access.

Perhaps the most important benefit, a conservation easement can be essential for passing undeveloped land on to the next generation. By removing the land’s development potential, the easement typically lowers the property’s market value, which in turn lowers potential estate tax. Whether the easement is donated during life or by will, it can make a critical difference in one’s heirs’ ability to keep the land intact. (Land Trust Alliance)

Talk to your financial advisor for more information.

The number of conservation organizations active on Block Island sometimes amazes and often confuses both visitors and members of the community. Why would such a little community have a Block Island Conservancy, a Block Island Land Trust, and an office of The Nature Conservancy too?

While the missions are very similar, there are significant differences in structure and funding. These organizations have no formal affiliation, yet they work closely together, complementing each other’s strengths. They collaborate and they cross-examine each other, sometimes moving together and sometimes acting independently. Without a doubt, Block Island conservation is better served by the three organizations than it would be just one of them.

Here is a comparison, by structure, mission and funding.


BIC is the oldest of the Island’s land protection groups. It was founded in 1972 by Island residents and remains a grassroots non-profit membership agency committed to protecting Block Island’s natural heritage and rural character, and maintaining public access to its resources. The membership elects a board of directors to manage its properties and acquisitions.

TNC is an international organization with a strong and expert staff that focuses on biological diversity. It committed its talent and expertise to Block Island projects in the 1970’s, responding to the strong local support for land protection demonstrated by Block Island Conservancy. A local field office was established in 1991.

BILT is a governmental body created by state and local legislation in 1986 to acquire open space for public benefit, financed by a land transfer fee. It is governed by a five member elected board of trustees who react to public priorities.


TNC mission is to protect biological diversity, primarily by focusing on habitat preservation and species protection.

BILT mission is broader, including public recreation, view shed and water resource protection, and building density objectives.

BIC mission is even broader yet. A private charitable institution, its foremost work is in open space and land protection, but it seeks to preserve the cultural and historical character of the island as well.


BILT receives the revenue from a three percent fee on all real estate sales, with an allowance for first-time homeowners.

BIC depends almost entirely on the financial support of private individuals. It maintains a membership list of persons and families and each year receives contributions from its donors.

TNC solicits financial support from individuals, foundations and large private institutions and often enters into projects that ultimately receive federal and state funding.