HeartLands Conservancy holds over 30 Conservation Easements in southern Illinois, totaling over 2,700 acres.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust, such as HeartLands Conservancy, or another agency, designed to permanently protect the conservation values of a property by defining allowed uses. It allows landowners to continue to own and use their land, and they can also sell it or pass it on to heirs.
Conservation easements offer great flexibility and are tailored to the vision of the landowners. An easement on property containing rare wildlife habitat might prohibit any future development, for example, while an easement on a farm might allow continued farming and the addition of agricultural structures. An easement may apply to all or a portion of the property and does not require public access.
Stewardship of Conservation Easements
HeartLands Conservancy monitors conservation easements every year. Monitoring helps us maintain an accurate record of any changes to the land over time and discuss any concerns or questions with the landowner.
Future owners also will be bound by the easement’s terms. HeartLands Conservancy is responsible for making sure the easement’s terms are followed and is required to take enforcement action if the terms are not.
A landowner sometimes sells a conservation easement, but usually, easements are donated. If the donation benefits the public by permanently protecting significant conservation resources and meets other federal tax code requirements, it may qualify as a tax-deductible charitable donation. Easement values vary greatly; in general, the highest easement values result from very restrictive conservation easements on tracts of developable open space under intense development pressure. In some jurisdictions, placing an easement on your property may also result in property tax savings.