A conservation easement is a voluntary, written agreement between a landowner and the “holder” of the conservation easement under which a landowner voluntarily restricts certain uses of the property to protect its natural, productive or cultural features. The holder of the conservation easement must be a governmental entity or a qualified conservation organization. With a conservation easement, the landowner retains legal title to the property and determines the types of land uses to continue and those to restrict. As part of the arrangement, the landowner grants the holder of the conservation easement the right to periodically assess the condition of the property to ensure that it is maintained according to the terms of the legal agreement.
Many rights come with owning property, including the rights to manage resources, change use, subdivide or develop. With a conservation easement, a landowner limits one or more of these rights. For example, a landowner donating a conservation easement could choose to limit the right to develop a property, but keep the rights to build a house, raise cattle and grow crops. The landowner may continue his or her current use of the property, provided the resources the conservation easement is intended to protect are sustained. Texas’ landscape and its people are diverse. Because every landowner and every property is unique, a conservation easement agreement can be designed to meet specific, individual needs.