Photo: Rob Gorrell

Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are one of the most flexible and effective means available to protect private property while providing tax relief. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement that ensures that property will be managed according to the landowner’s wishes. Each individual agreement is unique to the special qualities of the land and the conservation goals of the landowner.

Property rights involve many components, including rights to manage resources, change use, subdivide or develop land. Under a conservation easement, a landowner voluntarily limits one or more of these rights. For example, a landowner donating a conservation easement could choose to limit the right to develop a property, but keep the rights to build a house, raise cattle and grow crops.

Often, landowners donate these easements. However, public funding sources can offer far more opportunities for significant land conservation. In 2005, the Texas Legislature created the Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program, a purchase of development rights (PDR) program that is designed to pay property owners who volunteer to conserve their land. However, this program has never been funded and very little funding is currently available for conservation in Texas. Click here for more information on a 2009 effort by Rep. Charlie Geren and former Sen. Kip Averitt to fund the program and earn federal matching money that would help Texas landowners conserve.

Despite the lack of funding at the state level, cities and counties in central Texas including Austin, San Antonio, Hays County and Travis County have passed bond elections to generate public dollars to preserve natural areas and protect water supply. Contact HCA for more information about these opportunities.

Link to our issue page on Conservation Easements

Recent Conservation Easements News