What is a Conservation Easement

What is a Conservation Easement?

In a conservation easement, the property owner retains ownership of the land but legally commits to forgoing future development. The specific requirements and prohibitions of each easement are unique, determined by the features of the property and the purpose(s) it is intended to meet. Easements must be granted in perpetuity (or forever), and the organization that holds the easement is not only empowered – but required – to enforce its terms.

The value of the donation represented by a conservation easement is assessed based upon the loss of potential value that might have been gained if the property had been developed and is determined by a qualified Appraiser.

Facts About Conservation Easements

  • Removes future development and subdivision of property
  • May allow for reservation of a future home site and/or agricultural structures
  • May limit activities adjacent to or within sensitive natural areas
  • Conservation easements are flexible – not “one size fits all”
  • Allow landowner to continue to own and typically permit current land use(s)
  • Does not grant public access
  • Conservation easements “run with the land” – they apply to both current and future landowners
  • May still use land as collateral for loan; lease, sell or pass property to heirs
  • Conservation organization or public agency (Grantee) that holds the conservation easement has right to monitor the property and enforce the easement
  • Conservation values or purposes – defined in Section 170(h) of the IRS code as:
    • Wildlife habitat (plants and animals)
    • Farm and forest land (open space)
    • Land for public outdoor recreation or education
    • Historic land or buildings Scenic viewshed