people on benches watching a sunset over a lake
distant view of lake pend oreille with tall trees
person watching a sunset with dramatic mountains

People are drawn to this region by its stunning beauty, abundant wildlife and ready access to recreational opportunities.

These special qualities are threatened by the increased development that comes with a growing population. If not implemented thoughtfully, development can impact natural systems and undermine our exceptional quality of life. We realize that growth is necessary and strive to balance it with protection of our natural landscapes to maintain a vibrant community with ample opportunity for economic prosperity while protecting critical areas.

Our vision is that 100 years from now there will still be a permanent land base to sustain a vibrant, varied economy, large tracts of undeveloped land providing critical habitat, community access to natural areas, and pristine waterways such as Lake Pend Oreille and the Clark Fork River. The protection of working ranches, farms and forests plays a key role in achieving this balance. Since 2002, KLT has helped area families to protect over 3,600 acres of working farms, scenic views, important wetlands, and habitat for wildlife in Bonner and Boundary counties in Idaho and Sanders County, Montana. We use two primary methods to support this process: conservation easements and land donation. To learn more about our conservation work or how we can work with you to protect your land, contact our staff at (208)263-9471 or email

Understanding Conservation Easements

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust that protects land from development to maintain important natural qualities on the land. The easement transfers the development rights to the land trust, after which they are effectively extinguished. The conservation easement may also limit other uses such as mining, clear-cutting and activities that have a negative impact on the conservation values of the land. A conservation easement allows individuals to maintain private ownership of the land, manage it for various uses including timber harvest and agriculture, and continue to enjoy it, all while protecting its important resources. Landowners are able to sell or gift the land, but conservation easements are perpetual and must be adhered to by future landowners. The landowner and the land trust enter into this agreement voluntarily. KLT has no regulatory authority and cannot force a landowner to enter into a conservation easement. The Kaniksu Land Trust is responsible for upholding the terms of the easement and monitors all easements annually. The land trust maintains a stewardship fund specifically earmarked for this purpose. Conservation easements are one of the most powerful and effective tools available for the permanent conservation of private lands. Their use has successfully protected millions of acres of land while keeping it in private hands and generating significant public benefits.

Land Donation and Other Methods of Protection

By far the most common method of land conservation used by KLT is a conservation easement. However, we are also qualifed to acquire land outright. A gift of land can be the right option for someone who is no longer able to manage his or her land, has no plans for transferring it to another individual, does not wish to sell it, or wants to make sure the property stays in its natural condition. In some instances, KLT can access funding to purchase land. Other land gifting options exist whereby the landowner can live out the rest of his or her life on the property, but it then transfers to the land trust as part of the estate. For more information, visit our Planned Giving Options page. KLT also accepts gifts of real estate or other property for fundraising purposes. In this case we would sell the property and use the proceeds to further KLT’s mission. For more information on making a gift of real estate or other property for fundraising, please see our Non-Cash Giving Options page.

Tax Incentives

The donation of a conservation easement to the Kaniksu Land Trust may qualify you for a charitable tax deduction. In 2015, Congress made permanent an income tax incentive allowing qualifying conservation easement donors to deduct up to 50% of their income for a carry-forward period of up to 15 years or until the value of the donation has been used. Qualifying farmers and ranchers may deduct even more.