What are Conservation Easements?

Conservation easements allow homeowners to preserve their land while continuing to own it.

This legal agreement between a landowner and BACT limits the use of land to ensure that the conservation goals for the property are permanently upheld. Goals might include limiting development rights or the right to subdivide for landowners.  Each easement is individually tailored to meet conservation objectives and the needs of the landowner.  An easement can include all or a portion of the landowner’s property. The Barrington Area Conservation Trust ensures that all future owners honor the terms of the conservation easement.

Conservation easements often qualify the landowner for income tax, estate tax and property tax reductions, depending on the nature of the easement.   Typically, the higher the conservation values and the appraised value of the land for development, the greater the tax savings.  An easement may lower the property’s market value, which in turn can lower estate taxes.  Such a tax reduction can make a critical difference in the ability of heirs to keep the land intact; the alternative often has  been subdividing the land to pay heavy estate taxes. 

Read: Easement Spotlight Story

 

 

 Monitoring and Enforcing Easements

In accepting a conservation easement,  BACT is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that the terms set by the original landowners are maintained forever.  Staff and resources are committed to monitor the land and ensure easement terms are followed now and into the future.  BACT is prepared to legally defend an easement in the event of a violation. 

BACT maintains a stewardship fund to carry out these responsibilities. We ask easement donors to contribute to this fund.  In many cases, the amount of the stewardship contribution is more than offset by the tax incentives for donating the easement.

 How Conservation Easements Benefit the Community

Private property subject to a conservation easement remains in private ownership.  A conservation easement does not grant the public access to the homeowner’s  property – unless the homeowner specified this in the easement. 

Even though easements are placed on private land, significant public benefits can accrue.  Conservation easements can contribute to improved water quality and often are designed to protect aquifers and watersheds.  They can protect a community’s scenic beauty, vistas, and open space. They are used to buffer nature preserves and other public lands, keeping development away from boundaries, preserving scenic entrances and giving wildlife habitat an “overflow” outlet onto private land. 

 

It would be our pleasure to start the conversation about conservation protection on your land.  Please call or email us at 847-387-3149 or bactrust1@gmail.com