The WetlandsConservancy

Protecting Oregon's Wetlands

CONSERVING WETLANDS
APPROACHES TO  LAND CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION


People generally sift through options  that fall under three broad categories based on
whether they wish to:

1) Maintain or own the property
2) Permanently transfer the title in exchange
for payment
3) Transfer the title without compensation.

MAINTAINING PROPERTY

CONSERVATION EASEMENTS

Landowners can restrict how land may be used through written agreements, called easements. These become part of the property deed and stay with the land, binding subsequent property owners to the terms of the agreement.

In conservation easements, a landowner retains title to property, but transfers certain property rights to a land trust, government agency or nonprofit conservation organization.  Through the easement, the landowner can restrict the type and amount of development on a piece of property in order to protect  significant natural features, including wildlife or habitat. of the landowner. The parties involved can renegotiate the easement if circumstances change.


Advantages

  • Easements provide income tax, estate tax and
  • gift tax benefits if the easement is donated or
  • sold at less than market value.
  • The property owner retains ownership of the
  • property while potentially receiving income
  • tax, estate tax and property tax reductions.

Disadvantages

  • Easements can involve giving up some property usage rights.
  • The landowner maintains the land and is responsible for expenses, including taxes to another entity. 

Leases

A landowner who is not in a position to manage the wetland as required by a conservation easement can rent the property to a land trust, conservation organization or government agency. Under this option, the landowner can require a tenant to manage the property for a specified period of time. Landowners can structure the lease with or without rental  payments.


Advantages

  • The landowner can receive payments for the leased property.
  • The landowner can protect the land for a specified period without transferring the land
  • The landowner can terminate the lease if the property is not being used as directed.

Disadvantages

  • Leases expire.
  • Unless provisions are made by the landowner, leases generally allow unrestricted and exclusive control of the land by the organization or  agency leasing the property.