Donated easement serves to protect the land and the planet
Sky Parlor becomes first conserved property to manage for carbon sequestration
It’s fair to say that a rather impulsive decision made by Richard Grinstein’s father in 1952 proved to provide an important thread in the fabric of the family’s life; and, thanks to a donated easement, it will also benefit the surrounding community and planet forever.
As Richard recalls, “While visiting with a colleague in Vermont, my dad ended up purchasing a house and 110 acres just across the border in New York. It wasn’t something he planned but he did have the whole train ride back to Michigan to figure out how he was going to tell my mother.”
Apparently, the news was well-received as Richard recalls spending every childhood summer at the property exploring the woods and pastures. Over the years as neighbors put their property on the market, the Grinsteins purchased it, growing Sky Parlor to its current size of nearly 481 acres.
Because the Grinsteins continue to only use the property on a seasonal basis, Richard is always looking for ways to keep it affordable with the goal of keeping it in the family as long as possible. In addition to making the house available for short-term rental, Richard looked to the land for options. “Because 440 acres of the property are forest, I dug into the idea of forest carbon offsets a few years back,” says Richard. “I spoke with several companies but eventually reached an agreement with Forest Carbon Works. They pay us $10 per acre per year for the right to resell the carbon offset to companies that are looking to minimize their carbon footprint. As we’re not interested in harvesting timber for money, we saw this as the best approach for addressing our financial goals and protecting the land and forest.”
Shortly after reaching an agreement with Forest Carbon Works, Richard took another major step to protect the property by donating a conservation easement to ASA.
“Conserving the land does two very important things for us,” he explains. “First, it protects the land from development forever. I can’t overstate how crucial that is to us. Second, it provides us with a property tax credit that benefits us but doesn’t hurt the local economy.”
The latter point was especially welcome as the Grinsteins property taxes recently doubled in one year. The State provides a conservation easement tax credit that may provide up to 25% off property taxes on an annual basis, but is capped at $5,000 per tax payer. “The really great thing about that is that the state covers that ‘lost’ 25% so that the local town and community isn’t losing much-needed income”.
“We have a tremendous amount of respect for all ASA does to protect open land and forest. It’s a source of comfort to know that Sky Parlor Farm is now a part of that effort.” - Richard Grinstein
Funding for this conservation project was provided through ASA’s Forever Farmland Fund with a contribution from the landowner.