Across America, thousands of people are determined to conserve the places they value. Landowners have a deep connection to their land and know the gifts undeveloped properties provide their communities: clean air and water, fresh food, wildlife habitat, and sheer scenic beauty.
All too often these special places disappear forever because of development. Every day, over 5,000 acres of land are developed in the U.S.
Many landowners are taking a stand to safeguard the places they love— productive farms, ranchland, forests, wetlands, coastlines— for their family and for future generations.
The most traditional tool for conserving private land, a “conservation easement” (also known as a conservation restriction), is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land, and they can also sell it or pass it on to heirs.
When you donate a conservation easement to a land trust, you give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional structures, while retaining the right to sustainably harvest timber. Future owners also will be bound by the easement’s terms. The land trust is responsible for making sure the easement’s terms are followed. This is managed through “stewardship” by the land trust.