Conservation Easements...What are they?

In Maine, we are blessed with a large amount of beautiful land that is undeveloped. Nearly 6 Million acres is protected by 53 Alliance-member land trusts ( Land Trusts are not-for-profit organizations dedicated to protecting and conserving land. Land trusts help to save land from development, both commercial and residential. 

Conservation easements are great opportunities for landowners to legally protect the land for now and future generations, but there can also be financial benefits to protecting. If you choose to donate your land to a land trust, you can deduct it from your taxes as a charitable donation. Another possible benefit is that an easement can lower the land’s market value, because it reduces its development potential, so your estate tax may be lower. This helps to guarantee that when the land is passed down or transferred, it will stay protected ( . 

Doug Kerr/Flickr

Doug Kerr/Flickr

According to, land easements also benefit the public and communities because they:

  • Protect water quality

  • Conserve wildlife habitat

  • Preserve open space

  • Preserve farmland, ranchland, timberland

  • Maintain character of rural communities

While there are many positive benefits to easements, it is important to keep in mind whether or not you plan to sell it for profit. According to the National Association of Realtors, "they make properties more challenging to sell" because not everyone likes the idea of not being able to develop their land.  

If you have land and you are interested in protecting it or you want to support a local land trust, visit Find a Land Trust.  

Zoë Fluet

Zoë Fluet is the Director of Communications at Gray Fox Real Estate.