Properly delineating the boundaries of conservation easements and their different protection areas is crucial to easement stewardship and enforcement. Conservation restrictions are difficult, if not impossible, to enforce unless tied to physical locations on the ground. This guide discusses the delineation of boundaries and protection areas using physical markers, verbal descriptions, and visual depictions.
A conservation easement may have one or more holders responsible for upholding the easement’s conservation objectives. It may have a beneficiary, an entity with some rights to manage the easement in furtherance of the conservation objectives but no responsibility to do so. It may also provide a contingency plan to replace a holder in the event the holder cannot or will not perform its duties. Effective long-term easement management requires that when more than one entity shares easement management rights, the relationship between the entities must be carefully delineated.
When a mortgage predates an easement on a property, the easement could be extinguished in a foreclosure if the owners default on their mortgage payments. And if the easement is to be donated and the donors wish to obtain tax benefits, additional complications arise. These problems can be avoided by obtaining an agreement from the mortgage holder appropriate to the circumstances.
The Model Grant of Conservation Easement and Declaration of Covenants provides users with a state-of-the-art legal document. Built on a foundation of research that identified working (and failing) easement practices around the country and fine-tuned in response to user experiences and feedback over many years, no easement document has received more peer review. The expansive commentary explains the reasoning behind every provision, instructs on use of the model, and provides a wealth of alternative and optional provisions.