The Conservation Easement From Start to Finish

How do I preserve my land so it’s not developed? 
Would the Land Trust be interested in protecting my property?
What do I have to do? What does the Land Trust do?

These are typical questions the Greater Lovell Land Trust hears when we first talk to curious landowners about their conservation interests and preservation goals.

Protecting cherished property is a personal decision that can be financially and legally complex. The Land Trust can help you review options, answer questions, and give you information and resources needed to prepare a conservation plan best for you, your family and your land. It’s a time consuming procedure, but one we try to make as simple and easy as possible.

The First Conversation with a Land Trust easement committee member includes a discussion about your land conservation goals, the future ownership of your land, the special features of your property, your family’s needs and wishes. The GLLT representative will explain the Trust’s conservation goals, answer questions, talk about land preservation techniques in general and the conservation easement in particular. We will tell you if your preservation intention appears to be a match with the Trust’s preservation goals. If so, you will be given various materials that explain the many conservation options in greater detail.

The Second Meeting usually takes place after your review of the materials and your decision that a conservation easement is the appropriate protection tool. More questions are answered. Discussion occurs about your desired future land uses: Do you wish to protect the whole or a portion? Any structures to be included or permitted? What conservation values are to receive particular attention? It would be a good idea to discuss your conservation objectives with family members to develop a shared vision for your land.

The Site Visit with at least two of the easement committee members is the next step. We walk your land with you and talk about its major conservation features. We discuss the conservation purposes of the easement, any land-use restrictions, any specific terms you may want, any rights-of-way or utility easements, liens, mortgages, if the State of Maine Tree Growth, Farmland or Open Space tax programs might be appropriate. We both determine if the proposed easement matches our mutual goals.

Consult with Legal and Tax Adviser is what you may wish to do at this point. The Land Trust will provide you with The Annotated Easement, and/or copies of easements of similar properties to show what a typical easement document looks like. The Land Trust and its attorney writes the easement document taking into consideration your wishes.

The Baseline Data Document documents the condition of your property at the time the easement is granted and is prepared by the Land Trust from information you provide. This will include a Standard Boundary Survey showing the boundaries of the easement, any parcels to be retained by you, structures, rights-of-way and utility easements; and may include the Forest Management Tree Stand Map if any portion of the proposed easement is under the Maine Tree Growth Program; other maps, studies or inventories that show or describe conservation values, ecology, wildlife habitat, etc.; photographs or other material you would like to have as part of the easement record. At this time we also review the specific terms of the easement including restrictions, prohibitions, permitted uses and items. We will also need a copy of your deed for our attorney.

The Draft Easement Document is prepared by the Land Trust and its attorney for your review, comment and revisions that you or your attorney would like to make. There may be several drafts as the easement terms are negotiated by all parties.

  • Obtain a Qualified Appraisal if the easement is a donation and you wish to claim a tax deduction. This is required by the IRS to justify the value of the gift.
  • Final Documents including the Conservation Easement and the Baseline Data Document are signed by you as easement grantor and the Greater Lovell Land Trust as easement holder. Copies will be retained by both parties.
  • Recording Easement at the Oxford County West Registry of Deeds in Fryeburg is your responsibility as easement grantor.
  • Easement Monitoring by the Land Monitoring and Stewardship Committee will occur annually. These visits are an opportunity to exchange ideas and foster a long-term relationship between the property owner and the Land Trust.

The GLLT undertakes a major responsibility in accepting a conservation easement. If a donated easement is particularly large and complex in relation to its terms, the GLLT may encourage you as landowner to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation at the time the Land Trust accepts the donation. This endowment maintains the stewardship and monitoring of the property, the enforcement of easement terms and any expenses that may occur. The combination of your generosity and the GLLT’s commitment of resources ensures that your wishes and the Land Trust’s conservation objectives will be carried out.