Why Conservation?

To Save Limited Resources

Our air and water are limited resources. Our trees and fields are critical filters for our air. Wetlands that border our rivers, lakes, and streams filter pollution before it reaches our drinking water. If we do not remove the pollutants that our society puts into the air and water, we consume them ourselves. Saving land helps offset this danger.

To Benefit the Economy

In addition to health and food benefits, conserving land increases nearby property values, saves tax dollars by encouraging more efficient development, and reduces the need for expensive water filtration facilities. Study after study has demonstrated the tremendous economic benefits of land conservation.

To Strengthen Our Community

Conservation strengthens our community by protecting those resources that come from our land – water, food, wildlife, and places for recreation and reflection.  We give members of our community the knowledge and support they need to become effective champions and long-term caretakers of our critical shared resources.

What is a Conservation Easement?

The main tool we use to protect these special places is called a Conservation Easement. Simply put, a conservation easement permanently limits what land can be used for, in order to protect its natural features. Conservation easements allow landowners to continue to use their land responsibly, sell it, or give it to heirs.  They sometimes, but do not necessarily, grant the public access.

How Easements Work

When landowners donate easements, they permanently give up certain rights associated with their land. For example, they may give up the right to build houses or shopping centers, but keep the right to raise livestock, grow timber or crops. By donating an easement, they also control what future owners can do with the land, and entrust the Land Trust with the responsibility of making sure the land is protected in this way forever.

Easements are Flexible

Conservation easements are flexible tools. An easement on a timber farm, for instance, might allow continued harvesting and the construction of agricultural buildings, but restrict residential or commercial development; while an easement on family land along the Savannah River might restrict the cutting of large trees and industrial activities, but allow the landowner to build a home with a view that is guaranteed to remain scenic forever.

Tax Benefits

Owners often enjoy significant financial benefits for donating conservation easements.  Each easement has monetary value, which can be determined by an appraiser. If the easement protects values that benefit the public, such as a scenic view or wildlife habitat, the landowner may qualify for an income tax deduction and/or a state income tax credit based on the easement’s appraised value. In some cases, easements can even translate into property tax savings.

Leaving a Family Legacy

Easements also help owners pass their cherished family land on to the next generation. By restricting the land’s development potential, the easement typically lowers the property’s market value, which in turn lowers the potential inheritance taxes. Whether the easement is donated during life or by will, it can make a critical difference in an heir’s ability to keep the land intact and in family hands.

Help Preserve our Natural Landscape

Safeguarding forests, wetlands, & open spaces that define our region's character