Each conservation easement deed is recorded with the local county clerk’s office, and is therefore a publicly accessible document. However, all other documentation related to the easement transaction, including financial documents, residential photography, and other sensitive documents are retained in LTV office files and are kept confidential.
LTV became accredited by the Land Trust Alliance Accreditation Commission in 2008. At that time LTV was among the first 54 land trusts nationwide to earn accreditation. This is an approval that only 357 of the roughly 1,700 land trusts in the country have earned since the LTA established its accreditation program in 2007. Accreditation means that we operate with standards and practices that are among the best in the industry, including the maintenance of a robust stewardship fund and stewardship program that enable us to maintain and defend our easements – so you can rest assured that the natural and cultural resources entrusted to LTV will be protected in perpetuity. Read more about why accreditation matters here.
Amendments to conservation easements are always possible. However, changes to easements are only permitted if they do not diminish the easement’s conservation value protections. The most common type of amendment involves a landowner of an easement property choosing to further reduce the property’s development potential by relinquishing a retained dwelling unit right. For example, if an easement written in the past permitted three future dwellings/parcels on a 300-acre farm, an amendment could be written to limit the farm to one homestead residence. Limiting this future development potential would improve the property’s open-space protections, and would also generate additional tax benefits for the landowner, which makes it an attractive option. Amendments can also be written to clarify ambiguous or outdated language. Sometimes landowners choose to amend their easement specifically to strengthen conservation-specific restrictions, such as creation of additional water resource protections, or language targeted at protecting habitat for a particular species that may have recently taken residence on the property (i.e. bald eagle nesting areas).
No. Conservation easements are permanent land interests vested in the easement holder for the purpose of protecting conservation values. The property interest donated to the land trust “travels with the land,” and is a permanent part of the title record.
It’s always best to check in with the land trust prior to making major changes to the property. We can work with you to do a quick review of the easement provisions and make sure there are no conflicts with your construction plans and the easement restrictions.
Can I continue to farm on my land?
Keeping land open and available for working farms is one of the main goals of LTV’s easement program. Broadly speaking, agriculture is always permitted on conservation easement properties. The easement itself will be specifically crafted, however, to require things such as best management practices and livestock stream-access limitations. One of the challenges of crafting the language of a conservation easement is to adequately and effectively protect conservation values while also permitting a large variety of uses on each individual property (now and in the future). LTV Stewardship staff will always be happy to answer questions and work with landowners to understand the terms and conditions of the easement and how different types of uses might impact the protected conservation values.
It is our responsibility to act as the permanent steward of the conservation value protections provided by the conservation easement. Visiting the property regularly is necessary to document natural and man-made changes, and it also provides us with an opportunity to develop positive and constructive relationships with our landowners. The visit entails a member of LTV stewardship staff walking through the property to document any changes, as well as meet with the landowner or property manager.