A game-changing cross-border partnership between Island Nature Trust (INT) and American Friends of Canadian Conservation—launched to help American landowners donate their land for conservation purposes—is celebrating its first win.
American ownership is approximately 3.5 percent of the total land on PEI, yet for many years, American landowners interested in donating land for conservation purposes have experienced disproportionate legal and financial barriers. However, thanks to INT and American Friends initiative forged in 2018, significant tax relief is now secured for American donors.
“Americans who love PEI landscapes can now contribute to conservation and receive the same tax recognition that Canadians do. This fantastic cross-border partnership, applied in several other provinces already, allows us to more fully honour this gift of conservation land,” says Megan Harris, Director of Conservation for INT.
The Eppig–Flower Natural Area, a 25-acre parcel in Cable Head East was generously donated by American donors Peter and Mary Eppig and contains carbon storing peatland-type wetland and forest, both habitats for a myriad of wildlife. The parcel is contiguous with a 495-acre woodland and wetland complex in the area, which contains INT’s Perret–McKinnon Natural Area—providing excellent connectivity to an existing protected space. The diverse ecosystems and services the natural area provides will be protected forever for the benefit of both Islanders and wildlife under the Natural Areas Protection Act.
PEI has long enjoyed a strong bond with northeastern regions of the US. Historically, many families had members traveling back and forth to the US eastern seaboard for work. Those family ties often remain, with cousins, grandparents, or other relations on both sides of the border—many acquiring land or settling on PEI.
It was PEI’s reputation for swimmable ocean water that first drew Molly and Peter Eppig north from New England in 1993. They rented a house in Cable Head for their family vacation and ten years later purchased a property in the same community where they eventually built a home.
“In 2018 we attended an information session hosted by Island Nature Trust and American Friends of Canadian Conservation where we learned that it’s possible for American owners of Canadian property to donate ecologically sensitive land as well as realize tax benefits in the US,” said the Eppigs. “We decided to protect a wooded portion of our property that includes a bog which has been identified as ecologically important. We were so pleased to collaborate to ensure conservation of this property in perpetuity, and we encourage other American owners of PEI property to consider the American Friends of Canadian Conservation organization.”