Conservation Easements

A conservation easement is a legal document placing certain restrictions and conditions on the land that is recorded and attached to the property deed.  The land under a conservation easement remains in private ownership. GVC-landpres-map2Easements potentially offer landowners financial benefits while preserving land and protecting the watershed.

For example, the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy partners with Baltimore County to provide landowners the opportunity to receive income, estate or property tax benefits.

Depending on the conservation easement program chosen, an easement can either be donated or sold. A government agency or non-profit land trust (or sometimes both) agree to hold the easement. Terms of easements are customized to meet various objectives, but a main goal is land preservation. A conservation easement runs with the land, meaning it applies to all future owners of the property.

Please contact Ann Jones at 410-461-6869 to learn more about establishing a conservation easement on your property.

Your property is important to you and valuable to those around you for its scenic views, open and undeveloped spaces, wildlife habitat, stream corridor protection and/or history as a working farm legacy.

If your land meets certain criteria, the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, a designated land trust since 1989, can help you protect and preserve your land through a legal document called a Deed of Conservation Easement.

Easements establish a legal partnership between the landowner and a land trust whereby the environmental value of the land is permanently preserved by limiting its uses. This voluntary agreement protects the land in perpetuity, according to your documented wishes as well as certain other qualifications per the easement requirements. A Deed of Conservation Easement remains part of the property deed, and all future owners will be bound by the terms of the easement you set forth.

LAND PROTECTION BENEFITS MAY INCLUDE:
  • Permanent protection of cherished family lands, working farms, forests or historic property
  • Long-term monitoring on an annual or bi-annual schedule, under all future owners, to ensure the easement resources continue to exist
  • Potential for state and federal income tax deductions for the appraised value of the easement
  • Potential for reduced estate or inheritance taxes
HOW TO GET STARTED:
  1. Contact Ann Jones, the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy’s Director of Land Preservation, at ajones@gunpowderfalls.org.
  2. Discuss your options with Ann and consult with your legal and tax advisors concerning the benefits of placing your land in a conservation easement.
  3. If results of step #2 above are acceptable, schedule a site visit with Ann, who will document the potential easement values of your property. The purpose of this meeting will be to assess the potential to enhance the water quality of local streams and habitat for endangered species and important wildlife and to preserve archeological sites and historic structures. Additionally, the potential to reduce the future development capacity of the property will be evaluated.
  4. Review results of the site visit and decide if you wish to proceed with either a donated easement or purchased easement.
DONATED EASEMENTS INVOLVE THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
  1. The landowner submits application to the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy.
  2. The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy prepares documentation of resource values based on the previous site visit and determines if a survey or other legal work is needed.
  3. The landowner reviews the draft easement document, as developed by the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, with legal and tax advisors.
  4. The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy Board of Directors reviews the proposed easement document for approval.
PURCHASED EASEMENTS INVOLVE ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS:
  1. The landowner submits application to the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy.
  2. The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy determines if the land in consideration is located in a state-designated Rural Legacy Area sponsored by the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy and identified as follows: Gunpowder River Rural Legacy Area along the Gunpowder Falls from Sparks to White Hall or the Coastal Rural Legacy Area in the Middle and Bird River Watersheds. For more information, refer to: http://dnr2.maryland.gov/land/Pages/RuralLegacy/All-Rural-Legacy-Areas.aspx. State funding is available for land preservation in these two areas through a competitive process.
  3. In cases where a property is within one of the designated Rural Legacy Areas, the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy will assess the easement value using an approved easement valuation system that is based on the conservation values of the property as well as the reduction in development potential.
  4. In cases where the property is outside of the designated Rural Legacy Areas, potential funding sources will be researched by the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy provided that the resource values fit with those on the Gunpowder Watershed Conservation Program. The criteria are that the proposed property serves to enhance water quality of local streams and/or protect endangered species habitat, important wildlife habitat, archeological sites and historic structures.
  5. The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy prepares documentation of the resource values based upon the previous site visit and determines if a survey or other legal work is needed.
  6. The landowner reviews the draft easement document, as developed by the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, with legal and tax advisors.
  7. The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy Board of Directors reviews the proposed easement document for approval.

Volunteer Opportunity

If you like spending time outside and are interested in helping us monitor properties, please contact Merritt Pridgeon.

The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy holds/co-holds 33 conservation easements with the MD Environmental Trust (MET), MD Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and/or Baltimore County. We are responsible for monitoring these eased properties.  Monitoring conservation easements entails coordinating with the landowner to visit the property every two years. Purpose of the visit is to support the landowner in any conservation practices that he/she may want to implement on the property to enhance its environmental resources, to answer any questions about the easement and ensure that the property is being maintained in compliance with the easement document.

Testimonial

"With the guidance of the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, I decided that my property would be a great fit for their program. Being a member of the Conservancy has been a wonderful experience, including hosting three volunteer tree planting days over the past 2 years. Now there are 150 native species seedlings thriving in the flood plain and one day they will create new forest that will help preserve the integrity of the stream."
–Gunpowder Valley Conservancy conservation easement owner Cindy Riley as quoted in the Villager, October 2014, p. 13.