A conservation easement is a voluntary deeded agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization, such as the VES Land Trust. A conservation easement is designed to permanently protect specific natural, scenic or historic features of the land by limiting future development while simultaneously respecting private property rights. Conservation easements benefit the whole community by protecting and restoring our waters, preserving farm and forestland, and conserving habitat for wildlife.
Conservation easements are completely voluntary and are initiated by landowners who wish to protect and preserve the land they love.
Donating an easement creates a permanent legacy. Such a decision should not be made in haste. The VES Land Trust’s board members and staff are happy to meet with landowners and their families to discuss all aspects of an easement and its terms. Prospective donors should also involve their families and heirs, attorneys, and estate planners in the process.
Conservation easements protect the land forever. They are a deeded agreement that stays with the property when sold or transferred.
Donating a conservation easement provides significant financial benefits to landowners and their heirs. Easement donors qualify for federal income tax deductions, state income tax credits, estate tax deductions and exclusions, and reduced real estate taxes. In Virginia, donors have the potential to sell their state tax credits. Donors should consult their attorney or accountant for details on tax benefits. VES Land Trust does not provide legal or tax advice.
Conservation easements are as individual and varied as the lands they protect. While VES Land Trust has basic terms for all easements, there is flexibility for each landowner’s vision.