Conserving Your Land

Conservation easements – summary

Using legal tools called “conservation easements” or “grants of development rights,” land trusts help landowners to voluntarily limit development while keeping the land open for forestry, farming, and recreation. The property remains in private ownership with the peace of mind that it is protected now and forever.

Tax status

Donations of easements, as valued by certified appraisers, currently qualify as charitable contributions for federal income and estate tax purposes, but do not necessarily reduce property taxes.

GLT modus operandi

GLT works with Greensboro landowners who love their land and want to see it conserved. We buy and accept gifts of development rights. Sometimes we share a project with the Vermont Land Trust, which receives funding from The Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the Freeman Foundation, and private donors. But mainly we rely on funds raised from residents and friends of Greensboro.

Agreements for Purchase & Sale, and Grant of Development Rights

The first step in GLT acquisition of development rights is negotiation of a purchase and sale (P&S) agreement between GLT and the landowner. This is followed by negotiation of a grant of development rights, leading to a contract entered in the Town of Greensboro Land Records.

Stewardship endowment fund

GLT’s current policy is to raise or transfer $5,000 to its Stewardship Endowment Fund for each new easement, in order to cover monitoring and enforcement costs. Easement donors are invited to contribute to this fund in recognition that GLT is assuming a perpetual responsibility to preserve their land.

Standard terms of GLT conservation easements

Several of these are listed below, although it should be noted that GLT approaches each project flexibly out of a desire to accommodate as far as possible specific needs and goals of the landowner:

  • Fragmentation of a property under different owners is normally excluded, although an easement may permit subdivision of one or a small number of specified parcels.
  • Easements provide for homesteads of specified acreage where an owner may remodel an existing house or add certain types of ancillary structures.
  • Some agreements authorize present or future owners to establish up to a specified number of additional single-family residences on certain portions of the property.
  • Normally there is no limit on structures associated with agriculture or forestry.
  • Where holdings include woodland, easements provide that any harvesting of timber must follow a state-approved forest management plan.
  • If GLT and the landowner agree that it is desirable to maintain open spaces, such as hayfields, the easement authorizes GLT to arrange for haying or bush hogging the land if the owner fails to do so.
  • The landowner is committed to grant GLT reasonable access for purposes of monitoring adherence to the easement.
  • Unless an easement stipulates public access for recreation, it is up to the current landowner to decide whether or not to grant such access.

VLT guidelines

GLT normally follows guidelines issued by the Vermont Land Trust. VLT templates comprise our point of departure for negotiating Purchase & Sale agreements and grants of development rights. These are summarized on VLT’s website.

See in particular the pages:

  • Ways to Conserve Your Land
  • Conservation Options:
  • Donating a Conservation Easement
  • Selling a Conservation Easement
  • Donating Land
  • Donating Land or a Conservation Easement through Your Will
  • Purchase of Land
  • Types of Land

For further information contact Clive Gray, chair
at 802-533-2609 (Oct.-May) or 802-533-7723 (June-Sept).
Greensboro Land Trust, Box 135, Greensboro, VT 05841