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A CONSERVATION EASEMENT is a negotiated contract between a landowner and either a nonprofit organization or a government entity. In exchange for giving up some portion of a property's development rights, the value of the property is lessened and the landowner receives an economic benefit. This benefit results usually in lower property taxes, often in a reduction of estate taxes, and if donated, may also qualify for an income tax benefit. Because conservation easements have been viewed as providing a flexible and nonregulatory mechanism for achieving conservation goals, they have increasingly become a major tool used by land trusts and governments to protect land.

As legal agreements, conservation easements derive from the “bundle of rights” property concept that allows a portion of rights to be ...

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