When landowners wants to keep ownership of a property but also want to protect important natural, scenic, and historic resources, they can place a conservation easement on their land. Conservation easements offer private landowners flexibility in protecting their land. For example, a landowner can retain the right to grow crops on a parcel while, at the same time, relinquishing the right to build additional structures on the property. Or, in the case of public-access land, the owner may retain the right to build boardwalks and trails.
The landowners work with the land trust to set easement terms that accommodate their future plans, as long as the easement protects important resources on their land. To qualify for tax incentives, the conservation easement must provide significant public benefit such as water quality maintenance or shoreline protection, wildlife habitat, scenic views, historic preservation, flood control, farmland preservation and outdoor recreation.