What is a Conservation Easement?
A conservation easement is a voluntary deeded agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization, such as the Living River Trust. A conservation easement is designed to permanently protect specific natural, scenic, or historic features of the land by limiting future development while simultaneously respecting private property rights. The property owner who wishes to protect his or her property will work with the Trust, a lawyer, an appraiser, a bank, and perhaps a surveyor, to create this legal, binding document. The easement deed is recorded in the city register deeds office and becomes a matter of permanent record.
When landowners donate a conservation easement, they maintain ownership and management of their land and can sell or pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing future development rights. Easements offer great flexibility for the land is preserved as the landowner wishes; perhaps as a timbering area, a working farm, or an open space area. The use of the land and its future state is the decision of the landowner. It is a voluntary process, completely up to the landowner. Present and future owners of the property are bound by the easement’s terms and conditions.