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The Southern Oregon Land Conservancy most often uses a tool called a conservation easement to permanently protect land for this and future generations.
What is a Conservation Easement?
A Conservation Easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a public agency or conservation organization, like the Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, that protects the natural values of the land. Conservation Easements protect water resources, wildlife habitats and prime farm and forest land as well as rural landscapes, parks and scenic areas.
Each Conservation Easement is unique. The Easement is crafted to fit the characteristics of the natural resources being conserved, the needs of the landowner, and the objectives of the Conservation Easement holder.
With a Conservation Easement, the landowner retains ownership of the land, but typically gives up the right to exercise more intensive uses such as clearcutting, subdividing or mining. The effect of this agreement is to ensure the permanent protection of the important natural resources while leaving its use and management in the hands of the landowner.
The decision to place a Conservation Easement on a property is strictly a voluntary one. However, the restrictions in the Easement, once set in place, "run with the land" and are binding on all future owners of the property (in other words, the restrictions are perpetual). The Conservation Easement is recorded in the local land records and becomes a part of the chain of title for the property.
The landowner continues to privately own and manage the land and may receive significant federal and estate tax advantages for placing a Conservation Easement on their property. Perhaps more importantly, the landowner has contributed to the public good by preserving the conservation values associated with their land for future generations.
In accepting the Conservation Easement, the Easement holder has a responsibility to monitor future uses of the land to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement and to enforce the terms if a violation occurs.
Although a conservation easement prohibits certain uses on the land, it does not make the land public. The landowner continues to enjoy and use the land according to the terms of the agreement.
For more information, see our Frequently Asked Questions Page.