A Conservation Easement (CE) is a written and recorded deed agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization. The landowner promises to keep the land in its natural conditions without development, and the agency protects the property by enforcing an easement deed and monitors property in perpetuity.
Conservation easement is a very effective way to protect and conserve land in North Carolina. Conservation easements are used to protect farms, forests and mountains. A CE is a legal agreement between landowner and a conservation agency in which both parties agree to restrict development. These restrictions are designed to protect the conservation values of the property and the binding agreement stays with the property as it changes ownership.
The Buncombe County Farmland Preservation Ordinance allows the County to hold permanent conservation easements on farms in the County. These easements are designed to protect rural lands, particularly in the vicinity of urban growth, near high priority waterways and other environmentally sensitive areas. This gives landowners another option when faced with the pressures of development. Conservation Easements typically take two to three years to complete.
How Easements Preserve Farmland?
- Easement Deed is recorded at register of deeds
- Buncombe Soil and Water monitors easement property annually
- Easement is designed to keep land available for Farming and Forestry
- Deed Language is tailored to meet property owners goals and needs
- Reserved Home site allows for a home to be reserved for family members
- Farmstead Area permits new buildings related to farm operations
- Encourages best management farming practices to conserved natural resources
What are the Benefits?
- Protecting Precious Family Land
- Protect Property from Development Pressure
- Protect Natural Resources and wildlife
- Protect regions local food production and food resilience
- Protect Farming and family heritage
- Leave a legacy of a protected farm to the next generation
- Protect Open Space, Scenic Views, working lands
- Reduce Cost-share requirements for Ag Cost-share program to 90% coverage
- Conservation Easement grant fund for development rights
- Potential Tax benefits from preserving property when donating some value of the conservation easement. This donation of value is considered a public benefits and so landowners can take advantage of a variety of tax incentives, federal income tax deduction, and possible estate tax deduction.