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

Mar
16
Mon
7:00 pm Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Mar 16 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
With stops planned in about 550 communities and more than 40 countries across the globe, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust brings the Banff Centre Film Festival World Tour to Santa Fe again this year on[...]
Mar
17
Tue
7:00 pm Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Mar 17 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Ignite your passion for adventure, action, and travel! The next Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will be at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on March 16 & 17, 2020. Journey to exotic locations, paddle[...]
7:00 pm Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center
Mar 17 @ 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Banff Mountain Film Festival @ The Lensic Performing Arts Center | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
With stops planned in about 550 communities and more than 40 countries across the globe, the Santa Fe Conservation Trust brings the Banff Centre Film Festival World Tour to Santa Fe again this year on[...]
Apr
26
Sun
10:00 am Happy Earth Day / Acequia and Ri... @ Railyard Park Community Room
Happy Earth Day / Acequia and Ri... @ Railyard Park Community Room
Apr 26 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Happy Earth Day / Acequia and River Cruise @ Railyard Park Community Room | Santa Fe | New Mexico | United States
Click on image for full view of flyer River and Acequia Cruise, May 13, 2017 Join this slow and mellow community bicycle ride celebrating Earth Day 2020.  We will visit trails, parks, and mellow streets[...]

2018 Annual Report