Protecting Land & Water
With a mission to “permanently conserve and protect special lands along the waters of Vermont”, VRC works in partnership with landowners, municipalities, state and federal agencies, other conservation organizations and private businesses to accomplish land conservation.
The “Conservation Easement” is the most widely used land protection tool available to landowners in the United States. VRC employs this conservation method to protect important lands along the waters of Vermont. Conveyance of a conservation easement protects the land permanently, yet keeps it in private ownership. Easements are flexible and can be tailored to meet a landowner’s needs. Before granting a conservation easement, the landowner works with the VRC to identify specific permitted uses of the property. The easement then limits or prohibits certain activities, including industrial, commercial, and residential development.
Conservation easements are designed to conserve the important resource values of each water land property in perpetuity. An easement may cover portions of a property or the entire parcel. It is legally binding on all future owners and will be monitored and enforced by VRC’s Conservation Stewardship Program.
VRC only considers holding conservation easements on properties that meet rigorous selection criteria. VRC’s easement acquisition process follows a formal protocol and is guided by important policies adopted by the VRC Board.
The donation of a conservation easement to the VRC normally qualifies as a charitable contribution, which may entitle the donor to a charitable income tax deduction for the easement’s value. VRC may also choose to purchase conservation easements on outstanding lands that communities have identified as important. In these cases, in the absence of a landowner donation, private contributions and/or public grants make the purchase possible. The value of charitable gifts of conservation easements or the purchase price of purchased easements are based on “before” and “after” appraisals – the first assessing the land’s value before the conservation easement is in place, the second assessing its value afterwards. The difference between the two appraisals is considered the value of the conservation easement.