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Conservation Easements

What is a conservation easement? Think of land ownership as a bundle of sticks. Each stick is a particular right to that land. One stick may be logging rights. One may be development rights. One may be access rights. One may be mineral rights. Each of these may be separated from the bundle. In fact, each of these named may be subdivided in various ways.

The effect of a conservation easement is to permanently separate one or more of these rights from the bundle, to assure continued conservation of the land. Most commonly, conservation easements will remove logging and development rights, but this is flexible when being originally negotiated. You, as the landowner, get to choose what will be included in that conservation easement.

A difficulty in preserving land is that, no matter how committed you are to protecting it, you have no control over what happens to it when you’re gone. But if a conservation easement is acquired by an organization (land trust) such as the Athens Conservancy, then the organization will monitor the property to ensure that the easement is observed in the future.  A conservation easement is recorded with the deed and is binding on all future owners of the land.

Conservation easements are not free. There are not only initial legal costs of doing this, but an endowment is needed to ensure that the organization has the financial means to legally defend the easement in the future, if necessary. Depending on the property, its location, its size, and the nature of the easement, an endowment of one to three thousand dollars is suggested.

If you wish to discuss a conservation easement with us, please email us at: