A conservation easement is a recorded, legal agreement between landowners and the Trust that places perpetual restrictions on the use of the land. The Trust is responsible for enforcing those restrictions in perpetuity.
Conservation easements range from restrictions limiting residential or commercial use of the land to those that state the land will remain forever wild. The title stays in the landowner’s name and the land may be used as before, leased, sold, or passed along to the landowner’s heirs; always, however subject to the restrictions of the easement.
Most conservation easements are voluntary donations and benefit the public by protecting valuable land, thus the value of the restrictions may be considered a charitable gift.
Each conservation easement is specifically tailored to address the needs and desires of the landowner, and to protect the identified conservation values of the land.
The easement is recorded with the title to the property, ensuring protection forever, since all future owners will be subject to the easement’s restrictions.
The Trust does not own the land under a conservation easement; however, the long-term role of the Trust is to assume the responsibility and legal right, through its Stewardship Fund, to enforce the terms of the agreement forever. The Trust usually asks for a tax-deductible contribution from the easement donor to offset the cost of future stewardship expenses.
The property remains in private ownership, and within the conditions of the easement can be otherwise used as before, leased, sold, or passed on to heirs.
An easement in no way grants public access to property unless so desired by the owner.