Landowner Guides

Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program

A Pennsylvania Tool for Preserving Farmland

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program enables state and county governments to purchase conservation easements on productive farms. The easements protect the farmland from non-agricultural development.

Last Modified
Jun 20, 2018
44182 times

Agricultural Security Areas

Protecting Farms from Condemnation and Unreasonably Restrictive Ordinances

Within an agricultural security area (ASA), a farm is entitled to special protection from condemnation and laws and ordinances that would unreasonably restrict farming operations. Local governments in Pennsylvania may establish ASAs but only in response to petitions from landowners interested in enrolling their land in an ASA.

Last Modified
Oct 18, 2017
36361 times

Clean and Green

Pennsylvania's Preferential Tax Assessment Program

Clean and Green is managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, please direct questions to Stephanie Zimmerman, Administrative Officer, (717) 705-7796. Clean and Green, established by the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act, provides for lower property tax assessments of land capable of producing agricultural products and timber or providing open space for public use.

Last Modified
Aug 31, 2020
77131 times

Conservation Easements

An Introduction for Private Landowners

A conservation easement limits certain uses of the land in order to advance one or more conservation objectives while keeping the land in the owner’s control. It is established by mutual agreement of a landowner and a private land trust or government.

Last Modified
Jun 13, 2023
37628 times

Farmland Preservation Options for Landowners

Government and Private Approaches to Conservation Easements in Pennsylvania

Fifty-eight Pennsylvania counties have agricultural land preservation boards that purchase agricultural conservation easements. Sixty-eight private, charitable land trusts accept donations of conservation easements or, less commonly, purchase them. These two paths to farmland preservation differ in many ways.

Last Modified
Feb 09, 2023
22645 times

From Lawn to Meadow

Protect Water, Provide Habitat, Save Money

Converting areas covered by turf grass to meadows can be financially rewarding and relatively simple on both public and private land. It can also deliver substantial environmental and aesthetic benefits.

Last Modified
Oct 06, 2022
63025 times

Funding Conservation Easement Stewardship

Your Role as the Land’s Owner and Conservation Champion

In accepting a conservation easement from you, the land trust takes on the responsibility of ensuring that the land is conserved as you have agreed for all time. Fulfilling this duty requires financial resources most likely to come from you or subsequent owners of the land.

Last Modified
Oct 12, 2023
2189 times

Making Restricted Gifts

Impacts of Restrictions on Charitable Tax Deductions

Donors of land, cash, or other property may desire to place restrictions on a gift to ensure it is used only for specific purposes. To what extent might such restrictions limit or disallow a charitable tax deduction? What should a donor consider before making a restricted gift?

Last Modified
May 07, 2024
346 times

Reducing Federal Estate Tax

A Conservation Easement Benefit for Large Estates

For large estates, death triggers the possibility of federal estate tax. A conservation easement on the deceased person’s land—whether granted in life, by will, or by the person’s heirs—can reduce or eliminate the tax owed.

Last Modified
Apr 13, 2023
16028 times

Reducing Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax

In Pennsylvania, death triggers a state inheritance tax on the distribution of the deceased person’s assets (the “estate”) to the beneficiaries of the estate. Conservation restrictions in support of agriculture on land included in the estate can reduce the inheritance tax owed.

Last Modified
Jan 12, 2024
38672 times

Using a Deed Restriction to Protect Land

A Path for When Neither a Land Trust Nor Government Can Help

A family or group of neighbors may want to limit future use of a property, but that desire may not be shared as a priority by conservation organizations or government. In this case, a deed restriction may a sensible—albeit imperfect—tool that the private individuals can use on their own to achieve limited protection of the land.

Last Modified
May 18, 2021
4113 times

What Is a Land Trust?

Simply stated, a land trust is a charitable organization that acquires land or conservation easements, or that stewards land or easements, for conservation purposes. However, this simple definition leaves much to be explained.

Last Modified
Jul 01, 2021
51712 times

What is Conservation?

In brief, WeConservePA uses the word conservation to mean the act of caring for and wisely using land to ensure that the land’s natural resources can continue to benefit people and wildlife over time, and, where the land is degraded, restoring its capacity to deliver these benefits.  

Last Modified
May 12, 2022
3880 times