PATC obtained its first property, the Bear Spring Cabin tract, in 1939 as the result of a gift from Harrison Krider. Since then the club has obtained other properties through gift or purchase, and is now a major conservation property owner in the Mid-Atlantic States. PATC currently owns 39 properties, totaling more than 2,000 acres. In addition to 39 major properties, the club also manages several leased properties and lands containing trail and scenic easements. PATC acquires land based on 3 principles: 1) to protect PATC-maintained trails, 2) to protect the environment surrounding PATC trails, and 3) to enhance recreational purposes. Once acquired, PATC properties are managed under the principles of conservation and environmental stewardship.To find out more about PATC's Land activities, or to get involved in the club's efforts, contact our Lands Committee.
The A.T. follows a narrow corridor of mostly publicly owned land as it makes it way from Maine to Georgia. In 1978, the National Park Service (NPS) and Appalachian Trail Park Office (ATPO) began the task of purchasing the privately owned lands needed to provide a protected corridor for the trail. Responsibility for the corridor has been assigned to the Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC). The ATC coordinates monitoring of state and federal lands within established forests and parks, but delegates monitoring of NPS lands to the local maintaining clubs. PATC has responsibility for NPS corridor lands from Pine Grove Furnace State Park (Pennsylvania) to Rock Fish Gap (Virginia). The largest parts of the NPS corridor lands are in Virginia/West Virginia from the Potomac River to Shenandoah NP.
To find out more about this activity, contact our Corridor Monitors Committee.
The PATC Naturalist coordinates PATC's involvement in survey's of natural resources along the trail, including stream quality monitoring and flora and fauna surveys.
If you are interested in helping with these surveys, please contact our Naturalist Committee.
In keeping with the club's objectives as outlined in our constitution, PATC works to further the preservation of land for open space, conservation and recreation, and to assist, advise and cooperate with land owners and governments to achieve those objectives.
Read a copy of our recent letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
Read a copy of our recent letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regarding the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
PATC is a non-profit corporation and can accept donations. This may be best for landowners who do not intend to pass the land on to heir, who own property they no longer use, own highly appreciable property, or have substantial real estate holdings and may wish to reduce their tax burdens. An outright donation gives the donor a tax write-off.
If you want to preserve your land, yet need immediate income, selling it below market value may be the best option. This way you can avoid capital gains tax and it entitles you to a charitable income tax deduction based on the difference between the fair market value and the sales price.
Donating a Remainder Interest
In this arrangement, you continue to live on the land, but the land will go to the PATC land trust upon your death. This method, sometimes called a reserved life estate, insures the preservation of the land even though it is still important to you while you live.
Donation by Will
You can simply leave land to PATC in your will. If it is important to preserve for trail lands, the Club will insure its perpetual protection. But even if it is not near a trail, it may have monetary value. If it is your wish, the Club will sell the land and use the proceeds to purchase the land that it needs. The largest single bequest ever given to the Club was urban land that the Club could not use directly, but the proceeds from the sale became part of the endowment that is used for land acquisition.
Conservation easements have been much in the news in recent years. There are many different kinds, but all are intended to preserve land in its present state. Conservation easements are often used to preserve the viewshed. Essentially, an easement restricts how land can be used in the future. If you don’t want a shopping mall in this picture, you may want to consider an easement. You can preserve it in a forested state; you may restrict certain activities; you may permit agricultural or other commercial use on certain parts. The easement wording is determined by the landowner, and the easement is recorded on the deed with the County. Easements are normally, although not always, perpetual.
PATC will accept outright donations. In this option you will receive no cash, but you can apply for a tac reduction based on the difference between the book value of the land before and after the donation. If the land could have been used for development, the writeoff can be very large. Moreover, you can declare the easement as a gift on your Federal tax return.
Selling an Easement
If you need the cash, you can sell an easement to PATC. The details will have to be worked out with the Club and its legal committee. Using this option there is no tax advantage, but it permanently protects the land.
A trail easement is similar to a scenic easement, but its purpose is fairly narrow. Typically, a landowner transfers an easement to PATC for the use of a corridor of land for atrial. This is similar to a utility easement, and is recorded with the deed.
If you donate the easement, you can get a tax write-off in the same manner as with a scenic easement. If you sell the easement, there is no tax or donation advantage, but you will be helping the trail club by insuring the opportunity of hikers to walk. As for liability, all four states have a recreational use statute that protects from lawsuits landowners who permit recreational use. PATC’s legal committee can provide you with a copy of the statute and any case law that pertains.
Written Permission Letter
If you own land crossed by a local trail, and you want to work with the club to preserve the hiking experience, you might want to consider a permission letter. This gives hikers authorization to continue to use the trail, subject to any conditions that you might impose. It is revocable, and you retain all rights to the land, but it has no tax advantage and does not guarantee preservation.