For land that loses “Ag” valuation, Braun & Gresham has an interesting and effective alternative to paying taxes on market value for five years while reestablishing agricultural use. Taxes can be returned to “Ag” rates immediately if the property is made available for ecological research. Most appraisal districts allow an Ecolab property to move into wildlife management after two years or agricultural use after five. Braun & Gresham is uniquely able to set up qualifying Ecolabs through our many relationships with colleges and universities.
As a conservation-minded landowner, you could substantially reduce your property taxes within just 1 year — while fostering meaningful university studies — by allowing confidential ecological research on your property with the highly successful Texas Ecolab program. Under this program, developed by Braun & Gresham, PLLC, your land could transition into wildlife management use after just 2 years — a compelling and cost-effective alternative to the minimum of 5 years of grazing or farming typically required for properties to qualify for favorable Ag tax rates.
The Braun & Gresham Difference
Since the Texas Ecolab program’s inception in 2005 it has grown tenfold, and Braun & Gresham, PLLC has successfully achieved Ecolab status for over 335 landowners. We have also secured more than 56,952 acres of land for ecological research and gained approval for Ecolab applications in 51 counties – a true testament to the program’s high rate of success.
Texas Ecolab Program Advantages
- Substantial tax savings achieved during the first year of the Texas Ecolab program.
- Property qualifies for wildlife management valuation after 2 years.
- Advances important scientific research.
- Enhances relationships with universities and professors.
Texas Ecolab Program 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 2 year period.
Braun & Gresham, PLLC provides all the necessary services to establish an Ecolab
- Evaluate your property to determine the ecological studies and restoration that would be appropriate.
- Identify specific, high-qualified research scientists who have the capability and interest in doing ecological studies and restoration on the property.
- Negotiate and draft an agreement between you and each researcher’s university that establishes the terms for use of the land.
- Coordinate and manage all activities of the researchers, including evaluating research proposals, obtaining liability waivers, logistical coordination, and reporting to your appraisal district.
- Apply to your appraisal district for appraisal of the land as an Ecological Laboratory.
Texas Ecolab Program FAQs
What is the legal background for the Texas Ecolab program?
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 Texas Ecolab program allows you to consult with the researchers to clearly ascertain the scope of their research.
Which universities participate in the Texas Ecolab program?
As the Texas EcoLab program reputation grows, so does the distinguished list of institutions of higher learning. The Texas EcoLab 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.