Eastern Meadowlark. Photo: Cheryl Johnson/Audubon Photography Awards.
Eastern Meadowlark. Photo: Cheryl Johnson/Audubon Photography Awards.

Conservation Easements

Benefits for Private Landowners

There are many benefits for landowners that choose to utilize a conservation and agricultural land easement. In addition to it being their right as the owner of the land, it provides financial benefits in the form of a payment, tax deduction, or both. However, there are other financial benefits such as: 

  • They protect our agricultural economy by assuring that land will always be available. By preventing subdivision, ALEs keep ranches at a size that is economically viable for ranching. As one of our landowners put it, "you can't make a living off of small parcels."
  • If you're a farmer or rancher trying to pass the land to the next generation, this has been used to help a parent to sell the land to a son or daughter at an agricultural price while retiring on the proceeds from the sale of development rights.
  • Habitat restoration can be costly yet is important for many landowners, so the combination of a conservation and agricultural land easement and habitat restoration helps private landowners achieve their goals they would be unable to afford without financial compensation. This mutually beneficial agreement ensures the habitat investments made by conservation entities are a wise investment and landowner goals are achieved.
  • A conservation and agricultural land easement does not restrict the sale or lease of the land. The land will always be worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
  • Conservation and agricultural land easements can allow landowners to expand their operation into new business opportunities such as hunting leases, bed and breakfasts, or ecotourism.
  • Ranchers and farmers view this as a tool for estate and business planning that allows them to strengthen their business and maintain good land stewardship.
  • Landowners that donate all or a portion of their ALE can receive a federal tax deduction up to 100% of their AGI for the value of the donation and they have 15 carry forward years to use the deduction. This deduction was specifically approved by Congress in a bipartisan fashion to benefit agricultural landowners.

How you can help, right now