The process for placing land in a conservation easement is similar across most organizations that hold easements. The pace can typically be tailored to the landowner’s goals, and it can take just a few months, or stretch on for a year or more.
- The Trust’s staff meets with the landowner and visits the property. We discuss the landowner’s goals for their land. The Trust evaluates and researches the land, including natural and historic features, conservation or public policy designations, legal description, and how the land aligns with the local comprehensive land use plan.
- If the land has conservation value and is a good fit with the Trust’s program, the Trust and the landowner identify an approach for conserving the land that meets everyone’s goals.
- The Trust and the landowner, working with their legal advisors, draft and revise a deed of conservation easement.
- The landowner is responsible for these steps:
- Provide an up-to-date title report.
- Work with the lender to subordinate its interest in the property to the conservation easement if there is a mortgage or other lien.
- Make a tax-deductible gift to help cover the Trust’s cost of perpetual stewardship of the conservation easement.
- Retain an appraiser if seeking tax benefits for donating the easement.
- The Trust is responsible for these steps:
- Evaluate the land as described above.
- Develop a baseline report with photos, maps, and descriptions that document the important features and current conditions of the land.
- Review of the easement by the Trust’s Board of Directors while the process is underway and the final draft of the deed of easement. The Board has final say in whether to accept a conservation easement.
- Review the appraisal and sign the tax forms if the landowner seeks tax benefits.
- The signed deed of easement is recorded in the county or city land records. After a conservation easement deed goes to record, it is permanent and in effect for all present and future owners of the property.
- The Trust’s stewardship of the conserved land begins.
If you’d like to learn more and see whether your land is a good candidate for a conservation easement, please call us at 703-354-5093 to talk to a land conservation specialist, or send us an email.