Essex County Countryside Alliance

Farmland lost is farmland lost forever

Conservation Easements

Donating a conservation easement permanently protects a property from excess development, regardless of who owns the land in the future. Conservation easements are drafted to reserve the private property rights of the land owner and encourage traditional land use practices, like agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, hunting and fishing.

View the Landowners Document (click here) to learn more about donating conservation easements and the associated financial benefits. It contains the following information.

  • Steps for Landowners
  • Conservation Easement Terms
  • Tax Benefits
  • Conservation Easement Resources

A Guide to Conservation Easements

A conservation easement is a voluntary deeded agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization, such as the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, Middle Peninsula Land Trust or The Nature Conservancy. A conservation easement is designed to permanently protect specific natural, scenic or historic features of the land by limiting future development, while respecting private property rights.

Voluntary

Conservation easements are completely voluntary and are initiated by landowners who wish to protect and preserve the land they love forever.

Private

Granting a conservation easement is a private transaction between the landowner and the land trust. The landowner continues to live on the land and use it, is free to sell it to others or to pass it on to heirs. Conservation easements do not require public access to the land.

Permanent

Conservation easements permanently protect land. To qualify for tax benefits, an easement must be made in perpetuity, binding the current and future owners to the easement terms.

Flexible

Conservation easements are as individual and varied as the lands they protect. Landowners and the land trust negotiate the specific terms to meet their mutual goals. Traditional land uses are encouraged, such as hunting, fishing, farming and forestry.

Financially Beneficial

Donating a conservation easement provides significant financial benefits to landowners and their heirs, regardless of income level. Federal Income Tax Deductions State Income Tax Deductions Estate Tax Deductions & Exclusions Reduced Real Estate Taxes Potential to Sell State Tax Credits Donating an easement creates a permanent legacy. Such a decision should not be made in haste. The VES Land Trust's board members and staff are happy to meet with landowners and their families to discuss all aspects of an easement and its terms. Prospective donors should also involve their attorneys and estate planners in the process.