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What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and Wood River Land Trust that protects the conservation values of the property. The agreement allows a landowner to continue to own and use their land, and the land can still be passed on to heirs or sold. When a landowner enters into a conservation easement, they voluntarily give up some of the rights associated with owning land. The terms of the conservation easement are agreed upon in a collaborative process that meets the needs of the landowner and the Land Trust. For example, the easement on Barbara Farm protects prime farmland and water resources by limiting certain practices and some development rights. This allows the landowners to continue organic farming and ranching, consistent with the terms of the easement designed to protect conservation values. These limitations are in perpetuity (binding forever), and future owners are also bound by the agreement’s terms. The Land Trust is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the easement are followed.
A landowner may donate a conservation easement to the Land Trust or sell it. If a donation benefits the public and meets other federal tax code requirements, it may qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation.