Ashtabula River

Conservation Easements

Across America, people are using conservation easements to protect natural, scenic, agricultural, and other land areas of environmental significance. The Ashtabula SWCD currently holds conservation easements on 3200 acres of land with in the county.

What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement a property owner makes to restrict the type and amount of development that may take place on his or her property. Each easement’s restrictions are tailored to the particular property and to the interests of the individual owner.

To understand the easement concept, think of owning land as holding a bundle of rights. A landowner may restrict and receive compensation or donate away the whole bundle, or just one or two of those rights. These may include for example, the right to construct buildings, to subdivide land, to restrict access, or to harvest timber. To restrict certain rights while retaining others, a property owner grants an easement to an appropriate third party. 

The specific rights a property owner forgoes when granting a conservation easement are spelled out in each easement document. The owner and the prospective easement holder identify the rights and restrictions on use that are necessary to protect the property—-what can and cannot be done to it. The owner conveys the right to enforce those restrictions to a qualified conservation recipient, such as a public agency, land trust, or historic preservation group.

Why Grant a Conservation Easement?

People grant conservation easements to protect their land from inappropriate development while retaining private ownership. By granting an easement in perpetuity, the owner may be assured that the resource values of his or her property will be protected indefinitely, no matter who the future owners are. Granting an easement can also yield tax savings in many instances.

Other questions frequently asked concerning conservation easements.

What kind of property can be protected by an easement?

Who can grant an easement? To whom can they grant it?

How restrictive is an easement? How long does an easement last?

What are the Grantee’s responsibilities?

How can donating an easement reduce a property owner’s income tax?

How can granting an easement reduce a property owners property tax?

If a conservation easement is perhaps a land use and planning tool you may be interested in….. our District Staff can provide the answers to your questions.