A conservation easement is a
voluntary legal agreement entered into between a landowner
and a land trust that permanently limits a property’s uses
to protect the land’s natural resource values.
Easement lands remain in private hands and can preserve
traditional uses of the land such as family farming or
timber management, while protecting wildlife habitat,
wetlands and riparian areas, scenic views, water quality,
and other conservation values. Conserved land may be sold,
mortgaged, or passed down to the next generation, though the
easement becomes a permanent part of the title, running with
the land in perpetuity.
Easement lands remain in private hands and on local tax
rolls while providing significant public benefits such as
open space, scenic vistas and wildlife habitat.
An easement can apply to an entire property or just
to a portion of it, depending on what future uses the
landowner would like to allow. In some cases, easements may
allow for additional home sites on a portion of the
access onto conserved land is not required, though a
landowner may choose to allow such access.
Donation of a conservation easement may provide income tax
benefits to donors.
Additionally, protecting a property with a conservation
easement may reduce the amount of estate tax owed, thus
making it easier for landowners to pass the property on to
In some situations property taxes may be reduced as well.
To qualify for tax benefits, the agreement must be
properly structured and provide significant public benefit
by satisfying a “qualified conservation purpose.”
While the land trust cannot guarantee that the
donation of your easement will qualify you for tax benefits,
we will work with you to ensure that your easement meets the
federal guidelines for qualified conservation purposes.
For more about conservation
easements, see these Frequently Asked