Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal real estate agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its special land or conservation values. Landowners maintain many of their rights, such as owning and using the land, selling it, or passing it on to their heirs.
Conservation easements allow people to protect the land they love. They are a primary tool for protecting privately owned land. All conservation easements must provide public benefits, such as water quality, farm and ranch land preservation, scenic views, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, education, and historic preservation.

That depends on resources you’re wanting to protect and why. If you’re placing land under easement, you can work with the land trust to decide on terms that are right for you and the land.

For example, if building a home on the land or subdividing your property is important, you may be able to reserve those rights — as long as you’re still protecting important natural resources or conservation values (such as productive farmland or wildlife habitat). An easement can protect your whole property or part of it.

While every easement is unique, there are a few general rules. Farming and ranching are usually permitted. Hunting is often allowed. Development is often limited. Surface mining is almost always off-limits. While some easements require public access, many do not.

Most conservation easements are donated. However, if your land has high conservation value, a land trust may be willing to purchase an easement. Sometimes, a land trust and federal or state agency may partner to purchase easements on conservation, farm and ranch land.
A conservation easement donation can result in tax benefits, if federal tax law requirements are met. An easement donation may lower your federal income tax because you can claim the value of the easement as a tax-deductible charitable donation. Each landowner’s financial situation is unique. You should consult a tax professional before making any decisions.
Yes. One of advantage of a conservation easement is that it helps you pass your land to the next generation. A conservation easement helps you plan for the future of the land. It can lower your estate taxes, depending on your specific financial situation.
In most cases, yes. Most easements “run with the land,” meaning that the original owner and all future owners are subject to the easement. A few conservation programs use temporary easements — but only permanent conservation easements qualify for income and estate tax benefits.
Start by talking with a Missouri land trust close to you. Get to know the land trust and the work they do, to see if they are a good fit for your project. Talk to the land trust about the conservation values you want to protect and how you want to use the land. Also talk with family members as you consider your plans and conservation options. This is a big decision and it’s important to consult with legal, tax, and financial advisors, too.
The land trust’s job to make sure that land uses and restrictions described in the easement are actually carried out. To do this, the land trust monitors the property on a regular basis, typically once a year. The land trust works with you and all future landowners to verify that activities on the land are consistent with the easement. If necessary, the land trust is responsible for taking legal action to enforce the easement.
When a land trust agrees to hold a conservation easement, they take on important long-term stewardship responsibilities. Most land trusts maintain a stewardship fund to make sure they’ll be able to carry out these responsibilities. Often, land trusts ask easement donors to contribute to a stewardship or legal defense fund. However, the amount of the stewardship contribution is often offset by the tax incentives for donating the easement.

Nonprofit land trusts partner with landowners, communities, and conservation agencies.

Over 1,500 land trusts protecting over 60 million acres.

What is a Land Trust

Quote from a landowner about the value of protecting land with a land trust.

" I am very grateful to Ozark Land Trust for helping me to permanently protect the fields and forests of a farm which I love and which provide a lasting home for wildlife."

Landowners Tools and Options MLTC

The Missouri Land Trust Coalition (MLTC), an unincorporated association of land trusts and their partners across Missouri.

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