For land that loses “ag” valuation, Plateau works closely with our sister company, Braun & Gresham, and together we have an interesting and effective alternative to paying taxes on market value while reestablishing agricultural use. Taxes can be returned to “ag” rates if the property is made available for ecological research. Plateau and Braun & Gresham are uniquely able to set up qualifying Ecological Laboratories through our many relationships with colleges and universities.

As a conservation-minded landowner, you could substantially reduce your property taxes within six years — while fostering meaningful university studies — by allowing confidential ecological research on your property with the highly successful Texas Ecological Laboratories program. Under this program, developed by Braun & Gresham, you receive tax savings in the sixth year and transition to Wildlife Management in year seven — a compelling alternative to grazing or farming typically required for properties to qualify for favorable Ag tax rates.

Since the program’s inception in 2005 it has grown tenfold, and Plateau and Braun & Gresham have successfully achieved Ecological Laboratory status for over 390 landowners. We have also secured more than 60,600 acres of land for ecological research and gained approval for Ecological Laboratory applications in 51 different appraisal districts – a true testament to the program’s high rate of success.

Ecological Laboratory Advantages

  • Property qualifies for wildlife management valuation in year seven.
  • Advances important scientific research.
  • Enhances relationships with universities and professors.

Ecological Laboratory Qualifications

  • Properties of 20 acres or more work best.
  • The property must be principally used for research by a college and/or university.
  • Landowner commits to funding and accommodating research projects for a five year period.

How Do I Qualify?

First, Plateau will carry out a Habitat Assessment to evaluate your property as an Ecological Laboratory. After the habitat assessment, we’ll work with our sister company, Braun & Gresham to take care of the necessary legal requirements to establish your property as an Ecological Laboratory.

Ecological Laboratory FAQs

What is the legal background for a Ecological Laboratory?

The Texas Tax Code Section 23.51(1) defines qualified open space land to include “land that is currently devoted principally to agriculture use…or land that is used principally as an ecological laboratory by a public or private college or university.”

What do researchers study on my land?

Past examples include studies of meadow grasses and the preservation and enhancement of native grasses, long-term studies of ecological succession, studies of canyon vegetation, studies of the effects of urbanization on the Edwards Plateau, and soil sampling.

How will use of my property be restricted or changed?

The principle use of the property must be for research, but the program allows you to consult with the researchers to clearly ascertain the scope of their research.

Which universities participate in the program?

As the Ecological Laboratory reputation grows, so does the distinguished list of institutions of higher learning. The Texas Ecological Laboratory program has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Texas State University, University of Houston, Rice University, Trinity University, Mississippi State, Hofstra University, St. Mary’s University, The University of Texas at San Antonio, The University of Texas at Tyler, Baylor University, University of California – Merced, Mesa Community College, Mesa, AZ, University of Montana, Sam Houston State University, and Penn State.

For a personal conversation and more tailored information on the Ecological Laboratory program, contact attorney Cassie Gresham at (512) 894-5426 or email [email protected]. You can also visit our Ecological Laboratory website at www.texasecolabprogram.org.

AUTHOR: Plateau Wildlife
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