Conservation Easements

What is a Conservation Easement?

In use for over 100 years, conservation easements are legal agreements that permanently retire certain development rights of a property, as agreed upon by the property owner and a land trust. Each conservation easement is unique in that it restricts and protects the specific rights and land values that the owner wishes to conserve on a particular piece of property. And yet all conservation easements have one thing in common: they must provide a significant public benefit.

Conservation values may be agricultural, scenic, historic, ecological (wildlife habitat), or recreational, and the public benefits through the protection of these values. This does not mean that the conservation easement must allow for public access— in fact this is one of the biggest misconceptions of conservation easements! – it simply means that the surrounding community directly benefits by the land being conserved.

For example, if a landowner retires specific building rights and decides not to build houses on a scenic ridge top that is viewed from a major public road, then he or she is preserving a scenic view the public can see and enjoy. By voluntarily restricting development the landowner preserves the view (a conservation value) and the public benefits from these actions.

Every conservation easement must be recorded with the county clerk and is tied to the land in perpetuity. The land with the easement passes from landowner to landowner in concept since it is forever tied to the property. The land trust “holds” the easement, taking on the responsibility to ensure that the terms of the easement are met and visits the property and landowner each year to see that the conservation values are being protected.

In retiring certain development rights, a landowner is often giving-up a large amount of their land’s value. This value is determined by an appraisal and if the landowner donates the conservation easement to a land trust the value is considered a donation or gift by both the federal and state government, qualifying the landowner for a federal tax deduction and a NM state tax credit in certain cases.

Public benefits of conservation easements:

Protect water quality
Conserve wildlife habitat
Preserve open space
Preserve working farmland, ranchland, timberland
Maintain character of rural communities
Buffer public lands
Maintain landscapes for tourism
Require less in public services, generate more in local revenues
Stretch public conservation dollars

Upcoming Events

8:30 am Dale Ball Trails Work Day @ Dale Ball Trails, Sierra del Norte Trailhead
Dale Ball Trails Work Day @ Dale Ball Trails, Sierra del Norte Trailhead
Sep 18 @ 8:30 am – 11:30 am
Dale Ball Trails Work Day @ Dale Ball Trails, Sierra del Norte Trailhead | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Come help SFCT volunteers maintain Dale Ball Trails on behalf of the City, people, and dogs of Santa Fe. Bring work boots, long pants/shirt sleeves, sun protection, snacks, and water.  I’ll bring the tools! To[...]
5:30 pm Wellness Walks
Wellness Walks
Sep 18 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Wellness Walks
3rd Wednesdays of the Month 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM All walks meet at Avenida Cristobal Colon and Agua Fria Street and go from Larragoite Park to the Railyard via the Acequia Trail May 15th[...]
10:00 am Walk with Our Elders
Walk with Our Elders
Sep 20 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Walk with Our Elders
3rd Fridays of the Month 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM All walks meet at 1121 Alto Street and we’ll walk in Bicentennial/Alto Park May 17th June 21st July 19th August 16th September 20th October 18th
5:30 pm Walk with a Notable Local
Walk with a Notable Local
Sep 24 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Walk with a Notable Local
4th Tuesdays of the Month 5:30 PM- 6:30 PM (Except in October when it’s on the 1st) May 28th, Mayor Alan Webber, meet at 200 Lincoln Ave. and walk from City Hall to the River Trail[...]
10:00 am Vamonos Hikes
Vamonos Hikes
Sep 28 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
2nd Saturdays of the month 10 AM – 11 AM (Except in September when it’s on the 28th ) May 11th  “Find a View” Meet at Upper Canyon Road and Cerro Gordo Road  and walk[...]

2018 Annual Report