A conservation easement is a voluntary 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. Landowners retain many of their rights, including their right to own and use the land, sell it, and pass it on to their heirs.
Conservation easements allow people to protect the land that they love. They are the number one tool for protecting privately owned land. All conservation easements must provide public benefits, such as scenic views, wildlife habitat, or historic preservation.
That depends on what you are trying to protect. If you are placing land under easement, you can work with the Preserve Trust to decide on the terms that are right for the land and right for you.
For example, if it is important to you to be able to build a home on the land or subdivide your property, you may be able to retain those rights – as long as you are still protecting important conservation values (such as scenic views or wildlife habitat). You can use a conservation easement to protect your whole property or part of it.
A conservation easement granted to the Preserve Trust will protect the land from physical development but does allow the easement area to be used for setback and disturbance calculations under the Paradise Valley hillside regulations.
A conservation easement donation can result in significant tax benefits if it meets the requirements of federal law. It may lower your federal income tax because you can claim the value of the easement as a tax-deductible charitable donation. It may also lower your state income tax, depending on your state laws. Learn more by speaking with your tax adviser.
Yes. Often, one of the biggest advantages of the conservation easement is that it helps you pass on your land to the next generation. A conservation easement helps your plan for the future of the land, and it can significantly lower your estate taxes. Speak with your tax adviser.
In most cases, yes. Most easements “run with the land,” meaning that not only the original owner but all owners that come after them are subject to the easement.
How much Land is Protected by Conservation Easements?
As of 2015, nearly 17 million acres in the United States were protected by state and local land trusts through conservation easements. This is in part the result of their flexibility in allowing landowners to achieve their goals.
Start by talking with Preserve Trust representatives to see if it is a good fit with your objectives. Be sure and talk with family members as you consider your conservation options. This is a big decision, so it is important to consult with professional legal and tax advisers.
It is the job of the Preserve Trust to make sure that the restrictions described in the easement are carried out. To do this, the Preserve Trust monitors the property on a regular basis, typically once a year. The Preserve Trust will work with you and future landowners to make sure that activities on the land are consistent with the terms of the easement. If necessary, the Preserve Trust is responsible for taking legal action to enforce the easement.