Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Conservation groups receive $2 million gift

Express Staff Writer

A trio of regional conservation organizations announced last week they have been given a $2 million home in the city of Sun Valley.

"This inspired support helps to ensure a lasting legacy of conservation in Idaho," said Rick Johnson, executive director of the Idaho Conservation League.

The three groups, ICL, The Wilderness Society and the Wood River Land Trust, said the value of the home will be evenly split among them when the philanthropist who donated it moves on and the property is then sold.

The donor, who requested anonymity, retains the right to live in the home through an arrangement known as a "life estate reserved." In making the gift, according to a news release from the three groups, the donor noted that the tremendous increase in real estate values over the last 20 years is an example of "unearned income."

The donor made the gift with the hope that others with similar capabilities will also do so, the news release states.

"Hopefully, this will be an example for others with highly appreciated real estate, and they will consider donations of property when investigating charitable giving and estate planning opportunities," said Scott Boettger, executive director of the Wood River Land Trust.

Boettger said the gift, even after it is divided three ways, is "absolutely" the most significant financial contribution his organization has received.

"It's just neat that someone could think like that, that they recognize they have this huge increase in value," he said. "To have that returned to the community is really neat."

The donor said that, after living in the community for more than 35 years, it was only right to financially support local and national organizations striving to make the world a better place.

ICL Central Idaho Conservation Associate Tim Foster said the proceeds from the donation are unrestricted. ICL plans to put them into an endowment.

"We will not be spending those funds," he said. "We'll be using the interest from the funds to ensure conservation in Idaho continues."

Foster said it is advantageous that the donor wants his action to receive press because others might also consider such gifts.

"Support like this from a local resident is always especially satisfying," said Craig Gehrke, Idaho director of The Wilderness Society. "It means a lot to our organizations when someone from the area takes these kinds of actions."

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