Conservation Easement Deed
This document is an agreement between a landowner (donor) and a land trust (donee) to transfer certain real property rights, such as rights to develop, perform commercial activities, mine or extract minerals, oil and gas, and to conduct certain other activities on the property. A conservation easement deed must be recorded with the County Clerk & Recorder in the county in which the property is located. A land trust holds conservation easements in perpetuity and defends against all parties to stop any restricted activities. Well-written conservation easement deeds address conservation purposes, the intent of donor and donee, and specifies what actions are allowable.
Appraisal of Conservation Easement Value
This document determines the worth of the property prior to the donation of the easement compared with the worth of the property after the easement is in place to assess what diminution value is attributable to the granting of the easement. The appraisal must be prepared by a qualified conservation easement appraiser.
Because the property owner is donating real property value, a title insurance policy naming the land trust as a beneficiary is mandatory.
A Baseline Study
A inventory report is prepared by a qualified expert in wildlife, native habitats, public benefit, and other conservation easement values. It gives information about the current conditions, including buildings and improvements, and is also a testimonial to the conservation values present on the property. A good baseline also addresses conditions on neighboring properties and in the region, which may impact conservation values.
A Minerals Study
This review examines minerals, oil and gas, and other non-renewable resources which may be present on the property or in the region, with regard to activities in this area that could impact conservation values, and answers the question, "what is the likelihood that the property could be mined?" A determination regarding who owns or has leases for mineral extraction should be included. An evaluation of the potential for wind energy development, sale of water rights, and the possibility of condemnation of eminent domain should also be considered a part of the easement process.
The donor and the land trust form a partnership to protect the land.
Traditionally, a land owner donates an endowment of $10,000 to $20,000 for the monitoring and protection of the conservation easement. Some of these funds may be used by the land trust to educate and serve the conservation purpose in other ways.
Documents for tax deductions and credits are necessarily, as are records of any encumbrance of water rights and the subordination of mortgages. Additional conditions may need to be documented, as well.