A conservation easement is an agreement between a landowner and a qualified organization that establishes the future uses of a property, consistent with the landowner’s values. Essentially, conservation easements are voluntary restrictions on the use of privately owned land, generally designed to be appropriate to the specific circumstances and concerns of both the landowner and the easement holder.
SRT works with landowners to design easement provisions allowing continued economic use of their land, while conserving the land’s important natural features. As a result, no two conservation easements are alike.
Conservation easements are based on the idea that when people own land, they own rights that go with the property – such as the right to graze cattle, hunt, erect a home, subdivide or extract minerals. By voluntarily limiting some of these activities, a conservation easement allows you as a landowner to retain private ownership while also achieving other goals, like protecting your family's viable ranching operation, preserving open space or conserving habitat for wildlife. Typically, a conservation easement limits subdivision and non-agricultural, commercial uses.
SRT currently holds 66 easements on 22,835.23 acres around California, and we hold deed restrictions on 2,387 acres on Bureau of Land Management land in Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County.
Why Grant or Sell a Conservation Easement?
Landowners choose to donate or sell conservation easements for a variety of reasons. Often, the decision comes from the landowner’s connection to their land, and their desire to see it remain intact and used for agriculture, open space or wildlife habitat into the future. Many people also want to ensure that their children can inherit their property in its entirety. By reducing the land’s appraised value through a conservation easement, estate taxes may be lowered.
In some cases, SRT can help landowners protect their property by purchasing conservation easements and then holding the title to these easements. Landowners also can make a charitable contribution of land or conservation easements to SRT, usually qualifying them for significant income tax deductions.