What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is an interest in real property established by agreement between a land owner and a government entity or land trust (the holder of the easement) to achieve certain conservation purposes on the land. These might include:
- Protecting fish and wildlife habitat;
- Maintaining water quality;
- Preserving forest land, farmland, and open space;
- Promoting outdoor recreation;
- Safeguarding historically important lands.
A conservation easement’s purposes will vary based on the nature of the particular property, the aims of the land owner, and the goals of the easement holder. An important feature of a conservation easement is that it allows the easement holder to achieve conservation objectives on the property while keeping the land in private ownership.
How It Works
The decision to place a conservation easement on a property is strictly voluntary and an easement can be either sold or donated to a holder. The terms of the easement, once in place, are generally perpetual. A grant of conservation easement is a legal document that is recorded in county records and “runs with the land”, meaning it affects present and future owners of that property.
Benefits of Conservation Easements
There may be significant state and federal tax advantages for donating or selling a conservation easement to a qualified easement holder. There is also the satisfaction of contributing to the public good by preserving the conservation values of the land for future generations.
If you are interested in more information about conservation easements or how they might apply to your property, or if you are an organization that needs assistance with your conservation program, call William F. (Fritz) Paulus at 503-224-1773 or send a message here.