Updated Conservation Easement Handbook Released

WASHINGTON, D.C., 5/2/2005 – Land conservationists now have a valuable new resource for careful planning, creation, and monitoring of one of the most important tools used to protect land: the conservation easement. Conservation easements are voluntary legal agreements between landowners and qualified organizations that restrict future activities on the land to protect its unique natural heritage. Increasingly used by communities to maintain a balance between protection and development, conservation easements have been used to protect more than five million acres of private land across America.

The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL) have revised and expanded The Conservation Easement Handbook, the definitive resource for land conservation professionals developing a conservation easement program to meet local acquisition needs.

Order the handbook

With the renewed IRS scrutiny of donations of conservation easements, land donors, their attorneys, and easement-holding organizations will need the best possible guidance to ensure that they are following the letter and the spirit of the law-and this is it.

Originally published in 1988, this new edition draws on 17 years of experience from more than a thousand American land trusts and offers something for everyone: practical how-to tips and checklists for land trust staff and board members; detailed drafting guidelines for attorneys; and many sample documents on a companion CD-ROM.

A significant new addition to the handbook is guidance specifically for public agency program staff working with conservation easements.

A detailed guide for establishing and maintaining a conservation easement program, the handbook provides technical guidelines for drafting conservation easements-complete with case studies, sample documents and references to landmark court decisions. The two publishers, LTA and TPL, are national nonprofit conservation organizations leading land conservation efforts across the country through training, public finance and transactional support.

“The great conservation opportunities of this century will be on privately owned land, and conservation easements are the most effective way to protect those lands,” said Rand Wentworth, LTA president. “Now at this time when easements are under threat, The Conservation Easement Handbook presents critical information to help guide those who design them to last forever.”

The handbook reads like a how-to manual and includes topics such as:

  • Creating an Easement Program – From the basics, such as goal setting and developing criteria for resource protection, to the challenges of creating and executing a conservation priorities plan.
  • Developing a Stewardship Program – If conservation easements are to last in perpetuity, a well-managed stewardship program is vital.
  • The Conservation Easement Drafting Guide – An update to the Model Conservation and Preservation Easement published in 1988 and 1996, this section has five chapters dedicated to checklists, sample easement provisions and commentary.

“In a rapidly growing America, taking the time to plan for parks and public open space can make the difference between a place where people simply live and a community where people can really thrive,” said Will Rogers, TPL president. “Accommodating growth while ensuring healthy, attractive communities is hard, and using conservation easements to manage lands is a significant asset in achieving this balance.”

Selections from the handbook and ordering information are available online at www.lta.org/publications or at www.tpl.org/publications.


“Careful conservation easement drafting is essential to the long term protection of land and the perpetuation of those uses that enhance a landscape’s conservation values. This new edition of the handbook is an absolutely essential reference for all those who draft conservation easements. It provides attorneys with sample clauses and the rationale for specific easement language.”
Stefan Nagel, Of Counsel, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C., Boston, MA

“Conservation easements are essential to our work to preserve North Carolina’s diverse coastal habitats and the Conservation Easement Handbook is equally essential for our board and staff to understand wise use of this tool.”
Camilla Herlevich, Executive Director, North Carolina Coastal Land Trust

“As one of the largest easement-holding organizations in the country, our land trust has found the Conservation Easement Handbook to be a critical resource for our organization. This new expanded edition sets the stage for conservation easements for this century, with practical advice on program design and the technical legal information needed to craft sound easements.”
Jane Prohaska, Executive Director, Minnesota Land Trust

The Land Trust Alliance (LTA) promotes voluntary land conservation by providing the strategic leadership, training and resources needed by the nation’s 1,537 local and regional land trusts to succeed in conserving land for the benefit of communities and natural systems. Land trusts are nonprofit, volunteer-led organizations that, as all or part of their missions, accept private, voluntary donations of land or easements, fulfilling landowners’ wishes to keep their land as it is for their children and future generations. For more information, please visit www.lta.org.

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than two million acres of land in 46 states. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at (415) 495-4014 or visit us on the web at www.tpl.org.