News & Events

Does my land qualify for a conservation easement?

Author: Stephanie Wiegand | 06/20/16

Jefferson Land Trust takes its stewardship role seriously. Once we accept a conservation easement, we must protect that land forever, “in perpetuity”. This requires a significant commitment of financial and human resources, but it is a promise that can never be ignored or broken. Therefore, the members of Jefferson Land Trust’s Board of Directors must carefully evaluate whether a proposed conservation easement meets our conservation goals and whether we have the resources and capacity to protect the land over the long term.

Our conservation goals are broad enough to include many different kinds of lands, but they must meet certain criteria. In order for a parcel of land to qualify for a conservation easement, it must have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Is the land habitat for endangered, threatened or rare species?
  • Does it contain exemplary natural ecosystems, such as old growth forests or migratory waterfowl staging and/or wintering areas?
  • Is it valuable for timber or agricultural production?
  • Does it include shoreline and riparian areas?
  • Does it include wetlands, floodplains or other lands important for the protection of water quality?
  • Does it include parcels that could be connected to, or from, greenbelt corridors between privately protected or publicly held properties?
  • Does it include unique scenic viewpoints or outstanding physiographic features (for example, distinct outcroppings, waterfalls or bluffs) that help define the character of our locale and enhance our community’s sense of place?
  • Is it a heritage site of historic and/or prehistoric importance?
  • Does it include ecosystems of educational or scientific value?

In addition to satisfying the above criteria, we must be confident that we can adequately steward every property or conservation easement we accept. Some important questions we ask include:

  • Is the land currently protected?
  • Could another organization protect the property better?
  • Can an enforceable management plan be developed?
  • Do legal restrictions prevent us from accepting the land donation?
  • Can a public outreach campaign be developed to promote the land?
  • Can we protect the property in perpetuity?
  • Is a funding source in place to support ongoing monitoring?