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

Apr
24
Fri
6:30 pm Star Gazing Party – CANCELLED
Star Gazing Party – CANCELLED
Apr 24 @ 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Star Gazing Party - CANCELLED
Night sky in the Galisteo Basin. Photo Credit: Tony Bonanno. CANCELLED Stargazing Parties in the Galisteo Basin Friday, April 24 and Friday, October 16 6:30 pm – 10 pm    
Apr
26
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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-size 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 along the[...]
May
24
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all-day Bears Ears Guided Camping Trip @ Bears Ears National Monument
Bears Ears Guided Camping Trip @ Bears Ears National Monument
May 24 – May 29 all-day
Bears Ears Guided Camping Trip @ Bears Ears National Monument
Outings and Explorations Immerse Yourself in the Canyons, Cultural Sites & Rock Art of Southeastern Utah’s Cedar Mesa When Sunday, May 24 to Friday, May 29, 2020 Price:  $960         Deposit:  $200 ($460 tax-deductible) Leader:  Linda[...]
Jun
20
Sat
8:45 am Tecolote Ranch Insider Tour @ Tecolote Ranch
Tecolote Ranch Insider Tour @ Tecolote Ranch
Jun 20 @ 8:45 am – 5:00 pm
Tecolote Ranch Insider Tour @ Tecolote Ranch
Santa Fe Conservation Trust 2019 INSIDER TOURS Ruins · Artifacts · Views · Historical Sites Rare opportunities to explore archaeological sites on private land with archaeologist, Steve Post (see bio below). R.S.V.P. by phone (505)[...]
Jul
10
Fri
8:45 am Tecolote Ranch Insider Tour @ Tecolote Ranch
Tecolote Ranch Insider Tour @ Tecolote Ranch
Jul 10 @ 8:45 am – 5:00 pm
Tecolote Ranch Insider Tour @ Tecolote Ranch
Santa Fe Conservation Trust 2019 INSIDER TOURS Ruins · Artifacts · Views · Historical Sites Rare opportunities to explore archaeological sites on private land with archaeologist, Steve Post (see bio below). R.S.V.P. by phone (505)[...]

2018 Annual Report