The Conservation Easement Process
A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a landowner and the Upper Trinity Conservation Trust (UTCT) that defines how property will be managed in perpetuity. Landowner(s) work directly with UTCT to create a conservation easement that shows what the property may be used for as well as those uses that will be restricted. Each conservation easement is tailored to fit the unique character of the land and the desires of the landowner and UTCT’s criteria.
Landowner(s) need to know why they want to preserve their land. Typically landowner(s) don't want to see their rural, farm and ranchland or wildlife habitat destroyed. A conservation easement offers one of the best ways to permanently preserve natural features of land - - whether floodplain, a meadow, trees, a creek or wetlands.
Once a landowner(s) has made the decision to place a conservation easement on their property with UTCT, there are several steps that must take place. UTCT Staff will walk the property with the landowner(s) to ensure the property meets the mission of UTCT. Landowners will need to have an appraisal, and a survey may be required.
During the conservation easement process, UTCT encourages landowners to meet with their attorney and financial advisors to review the documents prior to being signed. Once all the documents have been prepared and the landowner completely understands and agrees with the uses and restrictions of the conservation easement the documents are signed and filed at the county clerk's office. At this point the conservation easement will "run with the land" binding the original owner and all the subsequent owners to the conservation easement's restrictions. A donation is requested from the landowner for UTCT’s stewardship fund for perpetual annual monitoring of the land.
UTCT will hold the conservation easement and work with landowner(s) throughout the easement process. UTCT will conduct a baseline assessment of the property. The baseline assessment will record the current state and natural features of the land and will include the conservation benefits of the property, building envelopes, if any, and existing structures will be recorded.
UTCT will work closely with the landowner(s) to meet their needs. Below is an overview of the steps that the UTCT works through with the landowner.
- Identify the Conservation Values of the Land to Determine if an Easement is the appropriate Conservation Tool;
- Decide as an Organization Whether or Not to Pursue the Project;
- Advise the Landowner to Consult Legal and Tax Advisors;
- Identify the Goals and Objectives of the Landowner;
- Compile Baseline Data and Inventory of Property;
- Draft the Conservation Easement Document;
- Sign and Record the Final Conservation Easement;
- UTCT Committed to the Annual Monitoring of the land and the Long-Term Stewardship.