Land Preservation Services
The Trust works in partnership with landowners to preserve their farms and way of life for future generations by placing a conservation easement on their property. A conservation easement is a legally enforceable land preservation agreement between a landowner and the Trust for the purposes of conservation. It restricts real estate development, commercial and industrial uses, and certain other activities on a property that are mutually agreed upon by the Trust and the property owner. The Trust customizes each easement to the particular needs and future plans of each individual farm family.
The restrictions, once set in place, "run with the land" and are binding on all future landowners (in other words, the restrictions are perpetual). The restrictions are documented in the conservation easement, which is recorded at the Recorder of Deeds. The easement becomes part of the deed and the chain of title for the property. The primary purpose of Trust conservation easements is to protect agricultural and open space land by significantly limiting the right to subdivide and build dwellings on the property. It is important to note that the landowner retains full ownership of the property.
The decision to place a conservation easement on a property is strictly voluntary with the option of selling or donating the easement to the Trust. The landowner who gives up these "development rights" continues to privately own and manage the land and may receive significant federal tax advantages for having donated the conservation easement. Perhaps more importantly, the landowner has contributed to the public good by preserving the conservation values associated with their land for future generations; ensuring that the farm will be in agricultural use forever, eliminating the threat of development and protecting the rich, valuable soils.
In accepting the conservation easement, the Trust has a responsibility to monitor future uses of the land to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement and to enforce the terms if a violation occurs.For more detailed information, see THE PRESERVATION PROCESS under PRESERVATION SERVICES.