OLT uses two methods of protecting land: 1) holding a conservation easement and 2) owning land. Each is described below. Review the fact sheets provided at the links at the bottom of this page for additional information.
Most of OLT staff’s time is spent working with landowners who want to donate a conservation easement on their land. Conservation easements allow landowners to continue to own and enjoy their land while agreeing to limit development. In most cases, a conservation easement will not require changes in how well-managed farms, forests, or recreational lands are used. The purpose of the easement is to keep the land as it is today.
Conservation easements are an attractive option to a growing number of landowners across the country for a number of reasons:
- A conservation easement is flexible. Protected land can still be used in a variety of ways. For example, farmland protected by a conservation easement can still be used for farming and sustainable timber harvesting is permitted. Houses, barns, and similar structures are permitted within “building envelopes” while the rest of the land is kept in its undeveloped condition.
- A conservation easement is private. The land remains yours to enjoy and to sell or leave to heirs. Conservation easements do not require you to grant the public access to your land.
- A conservation easement may result in tax benefits. Protecting your land can reduce your income taxes and/or estate taxes.
- A conservation easement is permanent. A conservation easement will protect your land forever, meaning that it runs with the land, no matter who owns it. Once an easement is signed, OLT takes on the responsibility of ensuring that its terms are followed.
Some landowners decide to donate their land to OLT outright for use as a nature preserve or other type of conservation area. This approach, in which OLT owns and manages the land, can have tax benefits for a landowner as well.
To learn more about how conservation easements work review the fact sheets below and contact OLT staff.