Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of the land trust?

It’s the land trust’s job to make sure that the restrictions described in the easement are actually carried out. To do this, the land trust monitors the property on a regular basis, typically once a year. The land trust will work with you and all future landowners to make sure that activities on the land are consistent with the easement. If necessary, the land trust is responsible for taking legal action to enforce the easement.

Can a conservation easement reduce my income taxes?

A conservation easement donation can result in significant tax benefits, if it meets the requirements of federal law. It may lower your federal income tax, because you can claim the value of the easement as a tax-deductible charitable donation. It may also lower your state income tax, depending on your state laws.

How does a conservation easement restrict use of the land?

That depends on what you’re trying to protect. If you’re placing land under easement, you can work with your land trust to decide on terms that are right for the land and right for you.

For example, if it’s important to you to be able to build a home on the land or to subdivide your property, you may be able to reserve those rights — as long as you’re still protecting important conservation values (such as productive farmland or wildlife habitat). You can use an easement to protect your whole property or part of it.

While every easement is unique, there are a few general rules. Farming and ranching are usually permitted. Development is almost always limited. Surface mining is almost always off-limits. While some easements require public access, many do not.

What are the benefits of conservation easements?

Conservation easements allow people to protect the land they love. They are the number one tool available for protecting privately owned land. All conservation easements must provide public benefits, such as water quality, farm and ranch land preservation, scenic views, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, education, and historic preservation.

What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners retain many of their rights, including the right to own and use the land, sell it and  pass it on to their heirs.

What does it mean to “conserve your land,” or “put your land in the land trust”?

These terms are used to describe how landowners act to permanently protect their land from development. When you conserve your land, you sign a legal document called a conservation easement and dedicate your property, forever, to being a part of  Sharon’s rural landscape. Sometimes the act of conservation is also referred to as “conveying development rights,” as conservation easements restrict the future subdivision or residential development of land. Conservation easements also prohibit mining, commercial development, or other activities detrimental to the ecological, agricultural, or silvicultural values of a property. When you conserve your property, you continue to own and manage your land, and pay property taxes to the town. You are free to sell or pass on your conserved land, though the easement will stay with the land. As the holder of the conservation easement, our role is to ensure the terms of the conservation easement are honored by all future owners of your property.

What is the Sharon Land Trust?

We are a private, non-profit land conservation organization that protects land important to the future of Sharon. We work with landowners—both individuals and families—and with municipalities, community groups, and state agencies to permanently protect the farms and forestland, recreational sites, and wildlife habitat that contribute to the rural character of Sharon and the vitality of our communities. We are governed by a volunteer Board of Trustees and supported by more than 300 members.

Copyright 2015 Sharon Land Trust