Eastern Sierra Land Trust - Conservation Tools
Conservation Easements, Land Acquisitions, and Land Exchanges
ESLT utilizes a number of tools that can assist landowners and the public in preserving the unique lands of the Eastern Sierra:
A conservation easement is a voluntary land protection agreement between a private landowner and a land trust such as ESLT. An easement provides for an owner to retain title and management of his or her land while designating how the land will be used now and in the future. Every easement is a unique document, customized to the specific needs and desires of the landowner and designed to effectively protect the resource. For example, a landowner may want to protect the land’s current agricultural use or special wildlife habitat qualities in perpetuity. These continued uses are ensured by prohibiting subdivision of the land; other private property rights would be retained. Public access is not necessarily required. Once in place, the easement guarantees that the land will be protected in that manner in perpetuity, even with a change in ownership. ESLT is legally obligated to monitor the easement by making annual inspections to ensure that the terms of the easement are being upheld. This Conservation Easement FAQ provides more detailed information.
Land acquisition may be the tool of choice in a very limited number of situations. ESLT will seek funding to acquire certain lands when there are very significant and valuable resources on the land and when there is a clear public benefit in protecting those resources. ESLT works closely with public agencies and local government in planning these projects.
The ESLT conservation buyer program matches up sellers of important lands with interested buyers. By working with local real estate professionals and others, ESLT can make connections between buyers and sellers of resource-rich land, with potential tax benefits possible when there is a qualified charitable contribution of development rights.
Land exchanges between public agencies and private landowners are a good tool for resolving issues related to developing isolated private "inholdings." Most agree that it is better to cluster development around existing communities when possible and ESLT can facilitate these real estate transactions between agencies and landowners.