What is a Conservation Easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between the person who owns the land and a non-profit conservation organization (often called a land trust) or a government agency.
The non-profit organization or government agency is designated as the ‘holder’ of the easement. This organization or agency is responsible for periodically inspecting the property to ensure that the easement terms are being met.
Things to Know
There are a few things to know about a conservation easement:
- It is voluntary.
- It is a written legal agreement signed and recorded in the county of record.
- It restricts certain types of land uses (determined by the landowner).
- It protects natural, productive, or cultural features.
- The landowner retains the legal title to the land.
- The easement must be permanent (in perpetuity) to obtain any federal tax benefits.
- Unless specifically written into the easement, your property does not become open to the public.
- There are potential tax benefits.
- Not all land qualifies for a conservation easement.
Who Restricts My Land?
In a conservation easement, the landowner decides which land uses to allow or restrict on his/her property. For example, the right to subdivide the property or the right to develop the parcel may be limited or given up. Visit our frequently asked questions page for more answers.
Are There Tax Benefits?
States and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognize conservation easements for legal and tax purposes (Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Section 170(h)). However, landowners should consult with their legal and tax advisors before initiating a conservation easement. Learn more about the potential tax benefits of conservation easements.
A Handbook for Landowners in the Lower Mississippi River Valley
This handbook is the guide for landowners in the Lower Mississippi River Valley who are interested in learning more about conservation easements. It provides background knowledge about easements, information about the steps involved, the tax benefits of conservation easements, and more about setting up a conservation easement.