LCC has conservation easements on over 1,035 acres in Lancaster County. Conservation easements are another avenue for conservation projects and are a legal agreement that limits lands uses to allow for conservation practices. The donor/seller of the conservation easement still retains ownership of the land, but basically LCC owns the development/subdivision rights.
An appraiser will value the land without the conservation easement and then with the conservation easement, and the difference between the two determines the value of the easement. The legal document will depict delineated zones of conservation (highest to lowest), which LCC and the landowner will work together to decide.
LCC is required to monitor the conservation easement area on a yearly basis and the landowner is required to keep all the requirements mandated in the easement document. A stewardship endowment fund is also required for all acquired conservation easements and LCC works with the landowner to accommodate this need.
Steps to Donating a Conservation Easement
You will work with LCC to identify your goals and conservation purposes and draft the easement document. You will want your lawyer to review the easement. It may take time to draft as a Conservation Easement is an important document and you will want to get it right. Some of the steps to completing a Conservation Easement include:
- Help LCC prepare the Baseline Documentation (maps, photos, history of the property, etc.). This is essential for future monitoring and must depict the condition of the property at the time the easement is granted.
- Once everyone is satisfied the landowner(s) and an authorized officer of LCC will sign the conservation easement and the Baseline Documentation. The Conservation Easement will be recorded in the Recorder of Deeds’ office.
- Make a cash contribution to LCC’s Stewardship Endowment Fund to ensure financial viability for future monitoring and enforcement of the easement.
- Have a qualified appraiser complete a final appraisal, suitable as justification for the tax deductions you intend to claim.
- If you desire work with LCC to publicize the notable accomplishment of permanently protecting your property. Often, the presence of a preserved property will stimulate your neighbors to seriously consider this option for their property.
- Take pride in knowing you have given a legacy of perpetual beauty to be enjoyed forever by your children, grandchildren and your community
For more information on conservation easements and to see sample documents, follow the links below: