What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and
the Conservancy that permanently restricts the future activities on the
land to protect the natural resources and conservation values found on the
Why should I donate a conservation easement?
People donate conservation easements for a variety of reasons.
Some donate for the potential tax advantages they might receive.
Others donate because of their conservation values and desire to
leave a lasting legacy on the land. Every easement is different and the
Conservancy will work with the landowner to reflect their wishes and
desires to conserve the land in perpetuity.
What type of land can be protected by a conservation easement?
Any land that demonstrates a definite conservation purpose can be
protected by an easement. This includes woodlands, wetlands,
meadows, farmland, endangered species habitat, scenic areas, natural
areas, wild and scenic rivers, historic areas, and any other type of land that
has a public benefit.
Does the Conservancy accept all easement offers?
The Conservancy evaluates properties on a case-by-case basis.
Potential easement sites are visited by a staff member from the
Conservancy to determine the property's conservation values. The
Land Conservancy’s Board of Directors then votes on whether to
accept or reject an easement offer.
Why do Conservancies acquire conservation easements?
Conservation easements are an important tool in the field of land
conservation. An easement allows the Conservancy to protect land without
having to own the property and take on direct responsibilities related to
Does the Conservancy purchase easements?
Yes, the Conservancy will purchase easements, but only on a case-by-case
basis because as a nonprofit entity, our cash resources can be limited.
Most frequently we are able to connect other resources.
How long does an easement last?
Conservation easements protect land in perpetuity. The easement runs with
the land, therefore, applies to all current and future owners of the
What are the advantages of donating a conservation easement?
For people who have a strong desire to conserve their land, an easement
can assure them that their land will never be developed now or in the
future. Potential benefits from donated easements may include lower
property tax rates on the unimproved land, reduction of federal estate
taxes, reduction of federal income taxes and reduced state inheritance
tax rates. An accountant and lawyer specializing in conservation
easements should be consulted for individual specifics.
Who enforces the terms of the easement?
The Conservancy is responsible for enforcing the easement. This is done
through annual monitoring visits to make sure that the property is in
compliance with the terms of the easement.
Will an easement grant the public access to my property?
No, a conservation easement will not grant the public access to your land.
If I donate an easement, do I still own the land?
Yes, you will still own the land. Land that has a conservation
easement on it can be bought, sold, and inherited just like any other
property. However, the same restrictions that apply to the current
landowner will apply to the future landowner.
Will the easement cover my entire property?
Not necessarily. The boundaries of the the easement are up to the landowner
and the Conservancy to decide. Therefore, the landowner is still able
to construct any locally permitted improvements on their land that are
not within the easement’s boundaries.
What activities does an easement prohibit?
Conservation easements typically prohibit any type of development or
extraction of natural resources from the property, basically anything
that may impair the conservation values protected.
Am I responsible for maintenance of my property if I donate an
Yes, the landowner is responsible for all aspects of property and building
How much is an easement worth?
To figure out the value of a conservation easement, the land
must be appraised by a qualified appraiser. The appraisal will determine the
value of the land with and without an easement being placed on the
property. The difference between the two numbers is the potential value of
the easement. For example, if an appraiser determines that the property is
worth $750,000 without a conservation easement and $500,000
with the easement, the value of the conservation easement is worth
$250,000. This amount can then be deducted over time to offset the
property owner’s adjusted gross income.
Contact Us with Additional Questions:
Six Rivers Land Conservancy
P.O. Box 80902
Rochester, Michigan 48308-0902
Telephone: (248) 601-2816
Fax: (248) 601-0106