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A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement, voluntarily entered into between a landowner and the New England Forestry Foundation (NEFF). Conservation easements are intended to protect a property’s forest, scenic, recreational, and/or ecological values by permanently restricting certain uses and the development of land. The majority of easements that the New England Forestry Foundation holds protect working forests and the values tied to its use as a sustainably managed forest.
Each conservation easement is individually tailored to fit the particular tract of land and the conservation values of that property. It is the responsibility of the land trust, as the holder of the conservation easement, to ensure that the terms of the conservation easement are complied with and that purposes of the conservation easement are honored in perpetuity.
Since the acceptance of its first conservation easement in 1977, NEFF has used conservation easements as a tool to protect over 1.1 million acres of primarily privately owned, working forestland across New England. With every easement NEFF accepts, we make a commitment to landowners to protect the conservation values of their property forever. This commitment is honored through the work of NEFF’s Conservation Easement Stewardship Program. NEFF’s Easement Stewardship staff aims to work alongside landowners to achieve two important goals: to safeguard the conservation values identified in the conservation easement, and to connect landowners to resources to help achieve their land management goals.
Landowners often have multiple goals for their land. NEFF aims to make sure that each and every landowner can achieve these goals within the context of the conservation easement. As a working forest land trust, NEFF encourages sustainable forest management and believes that one of the best ways for landowners to meet their forest management goals is to have a good working relationship with a private consulting forester. Landowners can benefit from NEFF’s professional network of certified forest consultants, estate planners, wildlife managers, and other conservation groups throughout New England to access professionals who will help landowners meet their land management objectives. We hope landowners will utilize NEFF as a facilitator to access these professionals who can help landowners in activities such as preparing a forest management plan or acquiring financial assistance for specific management activities.
We encourage landowners to contact NEFF’s Easement Stewardship staff with any questions or to request more information.
Landowners choose to place conservation easements on their properties to guarantee that the land is permanently protected for certain uses. As the easement holder, NEFF makes a legal commitment to ensure that the purposes of the easement are achieved. The easement stewardship staff aims to collaborate with landowners to achieve this commitment by upholding the terms of the conservation easement. NEFF staff members are available to work with landowners to understand the easement, to evaluate whether certain land uses are compatible with the easement terms, and to resolve any issues together.
One of the best opportunities that landowners and NEFF stewardship staff will have to meet and discuss the easement is during NEFF’s annual visit (outlined below). However, we encourage landowners to contact NEFF’s Easement Stewardship staff at any time with questions or to request more information.
For information on the easement stewardship process and our annual visit, download the following file.
In addition to the annual visit, please feel free to contact NEFF’s Easement Stewardship staff if you are ever unsure if an activity is consistent with the conservation easement. Each conservation easement is unique. However, NEFF generally requests that landowners contact us before:
– Conducting a commercial timber harvest
– Building a new structure
– Exercising a reserved right as defined in the Conservation Easement
– Transferring title or selling property
No, you may still sell or convey your land to a different owner at any time and at any price. However, many easements require that separate parcels covered by the same conservation easement stay under a single ownership, as well as prohibit subdivision of parcels. Conservation easements run with the land forever so the property will still be subject to the conservation easement even under new ownership. NEFF asks that landowners notify us in writing at least 20 days prior to transfer of title.
NEFF Conservation Easement Director Andrew Bentley at 978-952-6856 ext. 120 or firstname.lastname@example.org