What is a Conservation Easement?

Conservation easements are a primary tool that Genesee Land Trust uses to preserve land. They are the ideal tool for the land owners who want their land preserved, but want to retain ownership.

A conservation easement is a voluntary and perpetual legal agreement between a private property owner and a land trust that permanently restricts harmful uses and development of the property.

Conservation easements are flexible and tailored to meet the landowner's needs.

Easements can be written that still permit agriculture, some types of forestry, recreation, and other open space uses. The easements generally prohibit all construction and any activity deemed harmful to the natural characteristics of the land. The land trust is responsible for seeing that the restrictions are maintained over time and through all subsequent changes in ownership.

  • Public Access: Although Genesee Land Trust occasionally invites members on outings to a conservation easement property with the owner's consent, conservation easement properties remain private property and therefore no public access is permitted.
  • Benefits to the landowner of a conservation easement include permanent preservation and likely income, property, and estate tax benefits.
  • The landowner retains the right to sell, mortgage, lease, or transfer the property. A conservation easement runs with the land - that is, the original owner and all subsequent owners are bound by the restrictions of the easement.
  • The responsibility of all future landowners is to use the property in ways consistent with the easement. The executed easement document is recorded at the County Recorder's Office. This enables all future owners and lenders to learn about the restrictions when they obtain title reports.
  • Genesee Land Trust is responsible for upholding the terms of the easement, including legal enforcement if necessary. All easements are monitored yearly. The land trust maintains a stewardship fund specifically earmarked for easement enforcement. Donors of conservation easements will be asked to contribute to this fund.

There is no one size or type of property that would automatically make it suitable for a conservation easement. It depends on the conservation value of the land, the desires of the owner, and the level of development pressure. Please do not hesitate to contact Lorna Wright, Director of Conservation Programs, at lwright@geneseelandtrust.org.

Another good source for property protection information can be found by visiting the Land Trust Alliance.

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Genesee Land Trust Info For Landowners