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Conservation Easement

  1. An easement creates a nonpossessory right to enter and use land in the possession of another and obligates the possessor not to interfere with the uses authorized by the easement. An easement is generally affirmative in that it creates the right to make use of the land of another. A negative easement, the obligation not to use land in one's possession in specified ways, is known as a restrictive covenant.
  2. An agreement between a landowner and a private land trust or government. For conservation purposes, the agreement limits certain uses on all or a portion of a property while keeping the property in the landowner’s ownership and control. The agreement is usually tailored to the particular property and to the goals of the owner and conservaAn agreement between a landowner and a private land trust or government. The agreement limits certain uses on all or a portion of a property for conservation purposes while keeping the property in the landowner’s ownership and control. The agreement is usually tailored to the particular property and to the goals of the owner and conservation organization. It applies to present and future owners of the land. Most conservation easements are donated by people who wish to protect a beloved place. Under certain circumstances, easements are sold at a bargain price or fair market value. Donations and bargain sales that meet IRS requirements can result in federal tax benefits. The conservation easement is a nonpossessory interest of a holder in real property imposing limitations or affirmative obligations the purposes of which include retaining or protecting natural, scenic, or open-space values of real property, assuring its availability for agricultural, forest, recreational, or open-space use, protecting natural resources, maintaining or enhancing air or water quality, or preserving the historical, architectural, archaeological, or cultural aspects of real property. In Pennsylvania, conservation easements assist in the preservation or restriction of the use of selected predominantly undeveloped open spaces or areas, including but not limited to: (1) the protection and conservation of water resources and watersheds, by appropriate means, including but not limited to preserving the natural cover, preventing floods and soil erosion, protecting water quality and replenishing surface and ground water supplies; (2) the protection and conservation of forests and land being used to produce timber crops; (3) the protection and conservation of farmland; (4) the protection of existing or planned park, recreation or conservation sites; (5) the protection and conservation of natural or scenic resources, including but not limited to soils, beaches, streams, flood plains, steep slopes or marshes; (6) the protection of scenic areas for public visual enjoyment from public rights of way; (7) the preservation of sites of historic, geologic or botanic interest; and (8) the promotion of sound, cohesive, and efficient land development by preserving open spaces between communities.