FAQ - Conservation Easement Questions

I’m a landowner interested in a conservation easement. How can the Common Waters Fund help me?
The Common Waters Fund helps support easements by paying for many of the costs associated with establishing an easement such as legal fees and stewardship contributions. The land trust you work with can apply to receive funds to cover both their costs and your costs.

How do I find someone to work with on a conservation easement?

If you are interested in a conservation easement, but not already working with a land trust, you can find an organization in your area through the Land Trust Alliance (www.lta.org). You can also contact the Common Waters Fund and we will put you in touch with a conservation organization working in your area that may be able to help you with your conservation easement.

I’m already working with a land trust and want to apply for funding. What’s the next step?
Tell the land trust you are working with about the Common Waters Fund. For conservation easement funding, the land trust applies directly to the Common Waters Fund for funding to cover the expenses of establishing an easement on your property.

So as a landowner, I don’t get any money from the Common Waters Fund for establishing an easement?
The Common Waters Fund supports costs associated with establishing a conservation easement. This support goes directly to the land trust you are working with on your easement. The land trust will work with you to determine which costs are eligible for reimbursement.

The Common Waters Fund requires “working forest” conservation easements. I want to put a conservation easement on my land, but I’m not interested in managing my forest for timber. Am I ineligible for the program?
You are eligible. All easements supported by the Common Waters Fund must allow for active forest management for wood products, but active management is not required. It is strongly recommended that you have a management plan written for your forest at the time of the establishment of your easement to help you meet your goals for your forest, be they timber, wildlife, or some other purpose, and funding is available for this purpose. If you want to actively manage your forest for any purpose, a management plan is required, but you are not required to manage your forest to receive Common Waters Fund support.

Is land trust accreditation required to receive Common Waters Fund support?

No, but your land trust must have adopted the Land Trust Alliance Standards and Practices. Applications from land trusts that are accredited will rank higher than those from non-accredited land trusts.

What is an “extraordinary or very large easement” that is eligible for funding above $25,000?
This decision is made by a program advisory committee on a case-by-case basis. We recommend that you contact the Common Waters Fund coordinator, Stephanie Pendergrass, at 202-797-6530 if you are considering applying for an easement project that you think meets this criteria.