How is Land Preserved?

A conservation easement is the use of property rights to ensure a legacy.

Donating a Conservation Easement

A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a private landowner and a land trust that permanently restricts and defines the amount and type of development that is permitted on a property. When a landowner’s vision for their property is one of little change, a conservation easement can be a useful tool. San Isabel Land Protection Trust doesn’t tell landowners how to manage their land, but focuses on the big picture by preventing subdivision, inappropriate industry, and the sale of agricultural water rights.

Our goal is to assist landowners with the conservation easement process and support them with their family and financial goals related to their land and water.

Conservation easements are unique and tailored to each landowner’s long-term vision for their property.

Private property rights are often described as a bundle of sticks, and this simple analogy is often used to describe the process of donating a conservation easement. Each stick represents an ownership right, such as residency, construction of buildings, ranching, farming, logging, mining and recreating. A conservation easement removes sticks from the ownership bundle, for example the right to subdivide or the right to transfer water rights off the land. Ownership, management, enjoyment and profit – all the rest of the “bundle”— remain with the landowner.

Landowners who donate conservation easements to qualified land trusts may be eligible for substantial federal income and estate tax savings, as well as Colorado State tax credits.

Characteristics of a conservation easement

  • The property remains in private ownership and can be sold, leased, mortgaged, or transferred, but the easement protections remain with the land, forever.
  • Generally, subdivision, surface mining, and sale of water rights are prohibited.
  • The land trust retains no right to use, sell or transfer the development rights
  • The easement does not grant any level of government any rights in the property.
  • Conservation easements do not provide public access
  • Each conservation easement is unique and tailored to the needs and vision of a particular landowner and their property

A conservation easement guarantees the long-term protection of places worth protecting, through generations of landowners.

Purchase of Development Rights

For the most spectacular, productive, and unique properties San Isabel Land Protection Trust has the ability to raise public and private funds for the bargain-sale purchase of a conservation easement. The land trust has a very high rate of success with these initiatives and has the capacity to access all available sources of funding.

Land Donations

San Isabel Land Protection Trust accepts gifts of land or other real property. Any such gift would be carefully evaluated as to the needs for formal land protection, or for consideration as a re-saleable asset to be used to further our mission. If you are considering gifting land to San Isabel or another non-profit, we encourage you to talk to us to plan for the maximum benefit of your gift. We strive to honor the wishes of our donors, and can facilitate careful planning to achieve their goals.

Tradelands Program

“Tradelands” is a term that refers to properties owned by a land trust that may be sold for profit, with or without perpetual protection, as appropriate.

Conservation Buyer Program

San Isabel seeks to facilitate sales of protected properties, and also to match conservation-minded buyers to properties on the market that are in need of protection. We work with land brokers and potential buyers to achieve both of these goals.

Estate Planning

Keeping family land in the family can be very difficult, especially as land transfers through generations. Conservation easements can be a very important tool to assist with such transfers. Please see our estate planning page for more information.

  • "My family put 720 acres under conservation easement in 2009. We did it to protect the integrity of the property and to help secure the water rights to the irrigated hay land in perpetuity. In this age of agricultural and economic uncertainty, conservation easements are the thing to do."

    – Larry Vickerman, executive director, Denver Botanic Gardens, Chatfield