Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are generally used to conserve a property in its natural state while allowing land owners to retain many rights, including ownership of the property.

How does it work?


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    Perpetual Agreement

    A willing landowner voluntarily enters into a binding agreement with Hill Country Conservancy (or another qualified organization) to preserve a property’s natural value.

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    Financial Incentive

    The landowner may receive estate and/or income tax benefits for limiting the development potential of their land, thus rewarding ongoing stewardship efforts.

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    Monitoring & Enforcement

    Hill Country Conservancy regularly monitors and reviews the conservation easement with the landowner to ensure that the wishes of HCC & the original grantor are upheld.

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    Long-Term Protection

    Development limitations remain in place even if ownership of the property changes.

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    Cost-Effective

    The upfront cost of a conservation easement may be a fraction of the full value of the land, while keeping the land in private ownership.


Conservation easements are generally used to conserve a property in its natural state while allowing landowners to retain many rights, including ownership of the property.

A property owner has many rights that come with his land, including the rights to manage its resources, change its uses, or develop the property. With a conservation easement, a landowner can limit one or more of these rights. For example, a landowner can restrict the right to develop his property, but keep the rights to build a house, raise cattle, grow crops, and hunt and fish the land.

A conservation easement is a recorded written agreement between a landowner and a nonprofit land trust, like Hill Country Conservancy. The property owner makes the decision to allow the land trust to be the “holder” of the agreement.

The owner keeps the legal title to his land and together with the land trust decides which uses should continue on the property and which he wants to limit. As part of the arrangement, the land trust periodically checks the land to make sure it is maintained according to the terms of the agreement.

To summarize, a conservation easement is a limit or restriction a landowner freely places on his property to protect it. It is a choice the landowner makes to preserve the natural beauty, fertile soil, wildlife, and history of his land forever.

Landowners seeking to protect their lands for future generations are usually concerned about two things:

  • First, they want to preserve its natural beauty and unique qualities, such as the trees, springs, wildlife and family places that make up the land’s memories and history.
  • Second, landowners are concerned about their property’s economic viability. Although it is unlikely the land is the family’s primary source of income, it remains an asset that requires considerable financial management. Landowners often consider selling or developing their property when faced with rising property values and complex estate tax issues.

Hill Country Conservancy can lessen the burden of both concerns for landowners. Conservation easements can bring significant income and estate tax benefits, and in some cases, other financial incentives. Hill Country Conservancy can craft a conservation easement that maintains the landowner’s private ownership, while protecting the open spaces, scenic vistas, water, wildlife, and rural heritage for their children and future generations.