Introduction to Conservation Easements

Service_AreaWe are glad that you are looking at the possibility of conserving your property.  It is the generosity and conviction of landowners like you that helps retain the agricultural heritage, important habitats and beautiful open space that makes Mesa County so unique.  There are a number of options available to landowners who are interested in protecting and conserving land.  These pages contain information on the variety of programs available, a brief outline of steps required placing a property under a conservation easement, information on the tax incentives for conservation and some information on what happens after you have placed a conservation easement on your property.  The links to this information appear in the green box at the top of this page.  After reviewing these pages, feel free to get in touch with a staff member at Mesa Land Trust for more information.  We will be happy to discuss conservation easements with you and answer any questions you might have.

What is a conservation easement?

It is a voluntary land protection tool that a landowner either donates, or in rare cases, sells to protect all or part of their land.  Development restrictions specific to the property and determined by the landowner are detailed in the easement.  The landowner retains all other rights to the property and continues to own and use the land.  The easement is permanent and remains with the land in perpetuity, whether the land is sold, bequeathed, leased, or gifted.

Many landowners retain the right to build a limited number of houses for their family’s future needs or for future financial considerations.  The flexibility of easements can accommodate these needs, as long as the conservation values of the property are protected.

What are the benefits of conservation easements?

The landowner has protected the land from further development, ensuring open space will remain in the community.  In addition, tax benefits are often realized.  The easement represents value given up by the landowner, who might receive a federal income tax deduction.  Estate tax is often reduced considerably, allowing property to remain in the family rather than being sold to pay the taxes.  Long-term benefits are possible with a rise in the quality and value of local property if the area is maintained as open and agricultural.

What are the drawbacks of conservation easements?

Because each landowner determines the specific restrictions in an easement, there are few drawbacks.  Conservation easements are perpetual agreements that are difficult to change, and they do limit opportunities for future landowners to develop, divide, or subdivide the land.

Are there other options available?

Yes.  Conservation easements are only one tool available to landowners interested in land protection.  Many options exist, and we work with each landowner in determining which option is best for their needs.