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Conservation Easements Procedural StepsPart II

Steve Gaul, Nassau Co. Agricultural Agent and Dr. Mary Sowerby, Regional Specialized Dairy Agent

Authors’ note: In the last issue of Center Pivot, we outlined how conservation easements can capture the value of agricultural land now to preserve it as agricultural land in the future. A conservation easement is a legal, voluntary agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that restricts the development or use of property by only acquiring rights relevant to the purchaser’s goals (which are usually preservation of agricultural or “natural” land use). Land owners retain all other rights.

There are five important steps involved in granting a conservation easement. They are:

  • Locate a receiving entity.

  • Compile a baseline inventory.

  • Negotiate and draft terms of the

easement.

  • Execute and record the documents.

  • Get the property appraised.

Locate a receiving entity

compatible and stable partner. Landowners should be sure goals for the property are mutual. They should not sell their rights to an agency which expects the property to be all ―natural‖ if they plan to row crop.

The receiving entity must also be willing to purchase or accept a donation of the conservation easement. Typically they consider current use, size, and location of the property, plus the costs of acquiring, monitoring, and enforcing the conservation easement.

Compile a baseline inventory

To establish a reference point for determining compliance with the terms of the conservation easement, a baseline inventory needs to be taken. This would include:

  • Title search.

  • Survey of property (may not be needed).

  • Description of current property use.

  • Description of resources the easement is

designed to protect.

Receiving entities are usually a governmental agency, such as the Water Management Districts, or a land trust, a non- profit organization which holds land and/or the right to enforce the provisions of conservation easements ―in trust‖ for the public good. Examples include: The Conservation Trust for Florida, North Florida Land Trust and Nature Conservancy.

Receiving entities must be a

  • qualified organization‖ for income and

estate tax purposes. They should be a

(Continued on page 12)

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