Information for Landowners
The Feather River Land Trust works with willing landowners and local communities to conserve the places they value. Landowners have a deep connection to their land and know the gifts undeveloped properties provide their communities: clean air and water, fresh food, wildlife habitat, and sheer scenic beauty.
The landowners we work with are taking a stand to safeguard the places they love— productive ranchlands and farms, meadows, forests, wetlands— for their family and for future generations.
What is a Conservation Easement?
One of the traditional tools for conserving private land, a “conservation easement,” is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land, and they can also sell it or pass it on to heirs.
When you donate a conservation easement to a land trust, you give up some of the rights associated with the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional structures, while retaining the right to graze cattle. Future owners also will be bound by the easement’s terms. Owners who create conservation easements may receive substantial tax benefits.
The ABCs of Conservation Easements
Conservation easements work best when landowners want to continue to own and manage their property — the easement becomes part of the property title in perpetuity and the Land Trust ensures that the terms of the easement are honored by current and future owners. Under a conservation easement, the property can be sold, leased or kept in agricultural production and bequeathed to heirs. In many cases, the rights to subdivide and develop a property are limited or extinguished by a conservation easement, as are other potentially harmful rights, such as the right to conduct large-scale mining.
The landowner continues to own the land that is subject to the conservation easement, while the Land Trust is charged with monitoring the property to make sure its resources are being protected and that the terms of the easement aren't being violated.
Conservation easements can be tailored to protect important wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, agricultural land and a land's rural character, while also allowing the landowner to continue working the land. Generally, conservation easements do not allow public access to the property unless specifically permitted by the landowner.
Learn more about conservation easements from LTA's booklet "Conservation Options: A Landowner's Guide." To acquire a copy call the FRLT office or visit the Land Trust Alliance website.
What type of property is appropriate for protection with a Feather River Land Trust conservation easement?
Each property is evaluated individually after careful investigation of its resources and qualities. Depending on the property, sometimes one factor alone is enough to merit protection, other times several factors combine to make the property important to conserve. Generally, a property is a good candidate for protection with a Feather River Land Trust conservation easement if it meets the following guidelines:
- Conservation of the property is consistent with the mission of FRLT and the property is within the Feather River Watershed
- Conservation of the property clearly provides a significant public benefit in one or more of the following categories: ecological, cultural/historical, educational, scenic/open space, and recreational. Each of these categories has its own criteria.
- The land is of sufficient size that its conservation resources are likely to remain intact, even if adjacent properties are developed
- The land contains resources unique to and characteristic of the Feather River Watershed and meets other criteria in our feasibility checklists
- There is funding available for acquisition of the property and the stewardship costs
- FRLT has the resources to fulfill any and all stewardship responsibilities associated with the property
Curious about protecting your land?Most land conservation projects take 1 to 2 years to complete. As a lean nonprofit, the number of new projects we can take on each year is limited. We currently have a waiting list of 40+ priority conservation projects with interested landowners.
However, we know that sometimes when a special place is threatened, time is of the essence. If you are interested in working with us to protect your land, please give us a call at (530) 283-5758 or email us and request an application packet.
The Feather River Land Trust is a member of the Land Trust Alliance, a national organization working with more than 1,700 land trusts to promote voluntary private land conservation to benefit communities and natural systems. The Land Trust Alliance offers in-depth information on conservation easements and steps landowners and communities can take to protect publicly important places. Explore LTA’s publications for landowners.