A conservation easement is a voluntary land protection agreement between a private landowner and a land trust such as ESLT. It permanently protects the unique resources and conservation values found on a property such as its scenic, wildlife, agricultural, ecological, or recreational qualities.
A conservation easement allows the 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 different, customized to the specific needs and desires of the landowner. But practically and legally, easements typically restrict certain land developments, such as subdivision for residential or commercial activities, industrial uses, and surface mining.
Conservation easements must accomplish at least one of these three conservation purposes:
- Protection of open space (including farmland, ranchland and forestland)
- Protection of a relatively natural habitat for fish, wildlife or plants, or a similar ecosystem
- Preservation of lands for education or outdoor recreation of the general public
A conservation easement is an extension of private property rights, and can be a valuable tool for private landowners who want to retain ownership of their property. Once in place, the conservation easement guarantees that the lands conservation values will be protected forever, even with a change in ownership. The easement is recorded as part of the property deed and public record.
As the landowners conservation partner, ESLT is legally obligated to monitor the easement by making annual inspections to ensure that the terms of the easement are being upheld. To learn more about monitoring and stewardship on protected lands,