Land Conservation

What uses are permitted on conservation easement land?

Typically, conservation easements held by the Forest Society allow the landowner to continue to use the land for agriculture, forestry, non-commercial outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat management and all other uses that are compatible with the conservation goals for the property and not specifically prohibited by the  easement terms.

What uses are prohibited on conservation easement land?

Conservation easements generally prohibit subdivision and development, commercial and industrial activities, except agriculture and forestry, mining and excavating, filling or disturbance of wetlands, and disposal of man-made waste or hazardous materials.

Can landowners request specific permitted uses on the property?

When you work out the details of the easement with the easement holder, you should try to anticipate as many future needs and possibilities for the land as possible.  Specific exceptions may allow an additional house lot on the property or the right to build and maintain roads and buildings.  Sometimes landowners put conservation easements on only a portions of their property reserving full development options for the balance of their land.

Does the easement grant any rights to the easement holder?

The conservation organization that holds the easement has the right to enter the property to monitor its condition and the obligation to enforce the easement, in court if necessary, to ensure that the terms are upheld and the natural resources are protected.

 

What is an executory interest?

An executory interest is a secondary or backup easement in the land held by another conservation organization.  The executory interest holder is responsible for ensuring that the primary easement holder monitors the property and enforces the terms of the easement.  If the primary holder fails to enforce the easement for any reason, the backup holder can take enforcement action to restore the property and can even take over the easement from the grantee.  As a landowner you may choose which organization is the primary easement holder and the executory interest holder.

 

How are conservation easements monitored and enforced?

The Forest Society knows that the best way to prevent problems over conservation easements is to maintain a positive relationship and good communication with the landowners.  The conservation organization that holds the easement has the authority and obligation to ensure that the natural resources are protected in perpetuity.  Easement holders are responsible for regularly inspecting the site to make sure the property is maintained in compliance with the easement.  If activities on the land violate the agreement, the easement holder may take action to halt the damaging activity.

Does granting a conservation easement give the public access to my property?

No, generally donated conservation easements do no automatically give the public any rights to enter or use protected property.  Most easements let the landowner decide to allow public access.  However, if  an easement is purchased, guaranteed public access for pedestrian recreation may be required.

 

Do easements restrict my ability to sell, convey by will, or give my land in the future?

No, you may sell or convey the land to a different owner at any time at any price.  Conservation easements run with the land forever, so all future owners will be required to follow the easement terms.

 

Will I be asked to donate money?

To help cover the costs of insuring your wishes for the future of your land, the Forest Society requests a donation to the Easement Stewardship Endowment.  This money provides funds for monitoring the property and for any legal expenses that may be necessary to enforce the terms of the easement.