What is a Conservation Easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that places permanent restrictions on the use of a property. The particular restrictions defined by the easement depend upon the owner’s goals for the property’s future use. Easements define the number and location of future structures, and allowable alterations to the land and vegetation. An easement is binding on current and future owners.
Providing Options for Landowners
For landowners seeking to protect family farms, woodlots, or treasured shorefront properties, the donation of a conservation easement to the Western Foothills Land Trust is among the stewardship options available.
The Trust monitors each easement property annually to assure the specifics of each easement are being met. In addition, The Trust stewards conservation properties that it holds in fee-ownership for public benefit.
With a conservation easement, landowners retain ownership, receive federal tax benefits, and are assured that their lands will be protected in perpetuity. Each easement is a unique document reflecting the owner’s goals for the land.
Each year Western Foothills Land Trust organizes seasonal fund raising events, such as a cross country ski day, a bird watch and walk, a mid-summer’s swim, and an autumn paddle. Additional educational programs and hikes are offered by the Trust throughout the year, such as a biathlon, a Nordic ski day, snow shoe programs, a May bird walk, the Norway Triathlon, and an autumn paddle.
Public Benefits of Easements
• Easements help to preserve and protect open lands, scenic vistas, unfragmented wildlife habitats, watersheds, natural resources, and in some cases, recreational opportunities.
• Land under easement remains in private ownership and on local tax rolls.
• Easements complement local zoning by helping to ensure appropriate growth and protection of sensitive areas.
• Easements can preserve traditional uses such as hunting and forest management.
Landowner Benefits of Easements
• Easements protect valued property in perpetuity.
• Easements provide income tax benefits if the easement meets IRS standards.
• Easements retain family ownership of lands by reducing taxable estates.
Potential Landowner Costs
• An accurate boundary survey and conservation appraisal may be needed.
• Landowners also pay for all standard legal fees involved with an easement.
• A donation to WFLT’s stewardship fund is required for ongoing management of the easement.