Property Rights

Does an easement require giving up property rights?

When an easement is donated, only certain rights are given up by the landowner. The easement prohibits certain types of development and prevents environmental degradation, but the landowner still retains all other rights typically associated with land ownership. This includes the right to sell the property, mortgage it, bequeath it to family members, hunt, farm, cut timber, and even retain a few limited homesites. Furthermore, a conservation easement provides no public access rights to the property, unless the landowner so desires.

Will anyone tell me how to manage my land?

Through the development of a management plan, the landowner gets to decide how best to utilize and manage the property, provided he or she follows the restrictions in the easement. The easement provides some flexibility. For example, what is farm land today may be converted to forest land in the future, or what is a forest today might become a specially managed wildlife habitat someday.

Who enforces the easement, and how is the property checked on?

The government agency or non-profit conservation organization accepting the conservation easement assumes responsibility for monitoring the easement forevermore. This means that they will retain the right to visit the property on at least an annual basis (subject to landowner notification and authorization) and ensure that the terms of the easement are being fulfilled. If there is a violation, the holder of the easement has the rights to use the courts to remedy the violation in the most appropriate and expeditious manner.