Conservation easements are recorded, legal agreements between private landowners and the Land Trust that place perpetual restrictions on the use of the land in order to protect the specific conservation values of that property. Generally, easements are donated to the Land Trust by landowners that wish to restrict restrict most or all future development from occurring on these properties in order to conserve the special scenic values and natural resources of their properties. Although the landowner almost always retains the right to limit access to his or her land, the public is benefited by conservation easements in many ways including permanent protection of open space, conservation of wildlife habitat, lower municipal expenses than developed land, and scenic protection.
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.
Easements we hold protect our mountains, streams, oceanfront, lakefront, forests, and fields. For more information on what conservation easements are, how they work, and what their tax benefits to landowners are, please see our How We Protect Land page.