Conservation Easements

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By Preston Sullivan

Published: 2003

Updated: 2003



12 pages


Conservation easements are a useful legal tool to preserve farmland by limiting land uses. They are used to prevent development or to preserve scenic, natural, or other values the land may hold. Once in place, an easement runs with the deed, and, therefore, future landowners must abide by the terms of the agreement. Landowners either donate or sell a conservation easement to a recipient that holds the easement and is responsible for monitoring the terms of the easement for compliance. When easements are sold, the price is often the difference between the value of the land if used for development and its value under current use. When easements are donated, a federal income tax deduction can be taken. Typical easement holders are land trusts managed by non-profit organizations or governments. Governments often fund easement purchases by various means to meet local community objectives such as watershed protection or historic preservation. Several organizations are available to provide detailed information on conservation easements.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Conservation Easements
What is Allowed Under a Typical Conservation Easement?
What are the Results of Placing an Easement?
How Conservation Easements Affect Land Value
Who are the People Holding the Easement?
Monitoring and Enforcement
Examples of Government Incentive Programs
Easements in Action
Next Steps
Additional Resources
American Farmland Trust Publications

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This page was last updated on: May 7, 2019