The Land Conservancy works with landowners to preserve their land through the donation or sale of conservation easements and through the donation or sale of “qualified” land, which is land set apart for the purpose of establishing a nature preserve, for example. The Land Conservancy is interested in preserving land for agricultural, open space, historical, scenic, recreational, wildlife habitat, hydrologic, and ecological purposes.
What is a conservation easement?
A conservation easement is a permanent legal agreement between a property owner and a land trust (or a government agency) to specify how the land can and cannot be used by current and future owners of the land. The terms of the conservation easement are based upon standard terms that are then tailored to the particular property and the owner’s wishes. You can learn more about conservation easements here.
How long does an easement last?
Easements last forever. The conservation easement is recorded in the Office of Recorder of Deeds and is attached to the property’s deed so that all future owners will be aware of the conditions when they receive a title report.
Is a minimum amount of land required?
No, although most conservation easements are greater than ten acres.
Will an easement restrict me from selling my property?
No. Ownership may be transferred to heirs or the property may be sold, but the easement restrictions stay in place. In concept, the easement should lower the property value, but many preserved lands sold in Adams County have retained their value.
Will I be able to set aside a lot to pass on to an heir or to sell?
Each easement is written to reflect the wishes and needs of individual property owners. An easement may prohibit any future development or subdivision or may permit limited future development and subdivision. A landowner may also wish to exclude a portion of their property from the easement to permit future development.
If I put an easement on my property, must I allow public access?
For the most part, no. However, if you receive compensation for your easement, some grant programs require limited public access.
Will I be able to continue to farm, cut timber, or carry on an existing business on the property?
Yes. Landowners can still farm the land, harvest timber in a sustainable manner, and continue to operate a rural business, such as a bed and breakfast, antique shop, or roadside market.
Will a conservation easement prevent hunting on my property?
Regulations on hunting are not included in an easement. Hunting is regulated by the landowner and the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
How long does it take to complete an easement transaction?
A donated easement can be completed in as short as 90 days. A funded easement may take as long as two years to complete, depending upon necessary surveys, subordination agreements, appraisals, and grant funding.
Will I be paid for granting an easement to the Conservancy?
Most conservation easements are donated by landowners. In some cases, grant programs or funds may be available to purchase the easement. Land Conservancy staff can work with you to determine if funding is available.
Is there any effect on local property taxes or Clean and Green?
Any privately owned land is subject to property taxes, and the tax rate is unaffected by easements unless you are granted a reassessment at the restricted value. Clean and Green is the only program available that can reduce property taxes. Read here to learn more about how Clean and Green is different from preserving land through a conservation easement.
Are there tax advantages to granting an easement?
Yes. A donated conservation easement value is considered a charitable contribution that is eligible for a federal income tax deduction. In some cases, you also can significantly reduce estate taxes through a conservation easement. Read more about the tax advantages of granting a conservation easement here. We recommend you discuss these matters in detail with your attorney or tax preparer.