What is a Conservation Restriction?

Conservation Restrictions

A conservation restriction or CR (also known as a conservation easement outside of Massachusetts) is a legal agreement that extinguishes the development rights of the land forever, but does not alter the ownership of the land. This agreement is documented and recorded with the deed and is passed along to all future owners. It is enforced by the organization that holds the CR, typically a state or federal conservation agency or a private nonprofit organization such as a land trust.

Conservation restrictions are appealing to some landowners because they are lasting, long-term agreements that can be crafted with a high degree of flexibility. The exact terms of a CR can be tailored to the individual characteristics of a property, and to the needs and interests of the landowner(s). CRs may allow timber management, wildlife improvements, trail creation, and agricultural use. After a CR is executed, the taxable value of the land may decrease significantly, possibly making it easier to pass the land on to the next generation. In most cases, public access is not required when a CR is placed on the land. While a CR restricts land from being developed, parcels of land may be excluded and set aside for future building lots.

CRs have value, calculated as the difference between the land unrestricted, with full development rights, and the land with the Conservation Restriction which extinguishes some of those rights. CRs can be donated, sold at a reduced price (bargain sale) or sold at fair market value to a conservation organization.

You may contact us if you would like to discuss placing a CR on your land.

To learn more about conserving your land with Hilltown Land Trust, read our Conservation Restriction Landowner Handbook.

Farmland can be protected through a special type of CR, called an Agricultural Preservation Restriction (APR). Learn more about APRs…