What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement, also called a conservation agreement, is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust, such as Bluegrass Land Conservancy, which protects a property’s agricultural viability, natural habitat, rural heritage, and/or scenic open space in perpetuity.

Conservation easements are flexible documents tailored to each property and the needs of individual landowners. They may cover an entire parcel or portions of property.


Conservation Easements are Tailored to the Land

Each conservation easement is different, tailored to the land, the resources to be protected, and the desires of the landowner.

The landowner works with Bluegrass Land Conservancy to decide which activities should be limited to protect the important resources of the individual property. The restrictions must be adequate to protect resources and meet Internal Revenue Service standards.

In most cases, a conservation easement limits future use of the property to agricultural and open space uses. Future reserved rights to build additional residences for family members or employees, and, for larger farms, a limited number of divisions, may be permitted.


Land Remains in Private Ownership

After granting a conservation easement, landowners retain ownership of their property and may still use the property for farming, prohibit public access, use the land as collateral for a loan, or sell or transfer title to the property, subject to the terms of the conservation easement. Future owners of the property are subject to restrictions of the conservation easement.


What are the Costs of Donating a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is a complex legal agreement, which is intended to protect property in perpetuity. Its preparation requires the input of many professionals. Landowners are encouraged to consult with their legal and tax advisors when donating a conservation easement. A landowner should anticipate some expenses in donating an easement including the costs of lawyers, accountants, appraisers, and other advisers; as well as a stewardship contribution to ensure the permanent protection of their land. Financial assistance may be available.


Have questions or want to learn more?
We welcome all inquiries, contact Ashley Greathouse, (859) 255-4552, to discuss the ins and outs of donating a conservation easement and what will work best for you and your family. All conversations are strictly confidential.


Related Info:

Valuation & Benefits

Other Considerations

Using The Conservation Easement Tax (PDF)

Bluegrass Conservancy protected lands

How to protect your land

Our conservation partners

Places we work


Martha McConnell with her granddaughter

Why I Conserved

“We must keep the soil for farming for the future.”

Martha McConnell, Springhouse Farm
Boyle County, 2015


Read other Protected Land stories


Land Trust Alliance: Using the conservation tax-incentiveRead the Land Trust Alliance Conservation Easement Tax Incentives (PDF)

Visit the Land Trust Alliance website