There are several different mechanisms for setting aside land to be preserved or maintained in its natural state. Since private landowners own most of the riparian and wetland areas these activities are geared toward individuals, or developers in the planning stage of a development. Preserving land has numerous environmental and social benefits such as improved water and air quality and increased property value.
A conservation easement is a legal mechanism where landowners can place voluntary restrictions on the future use of their land. It generally requires that a landowner sell, permanently relinquish, or donate the rights of development reserved and granted to an organization or public agency dedicated to land protection. Most conservation easements are donations from someone who wants to protect a beloved place such as a nature area or family farm.
- Preserves significant natural features from development and other disturbances.
- Particularly advantageous in floodplains due to prevention of future flooding damage.
- Maintains an area in natural vegetation reducing the use of fossil fuels and air pollution relative to turf landscapes.
- Provides wildlife habitat.
An outright purchase is a purchase of land by an individual or organization in order to maintain it as undeveloped open land – often in its natural state. Nonprofit land trusts or public agencies focused on environmental conservation may purchase land to protect is as open space.
- Provides maximum protection of natural resource areas.
- Particularly advantageous if floodplain property.
- Prevents increase in future impervious surface area, which ultimately reduces the volume and rate of surface water runoff.
A deed restriction is a legally binding limitation and/or restriction on the use of property. They are particularly prevalent to maintain/protect the natural drainage system, and may impose a large variety of limitations and conditions such as limiting the density, type or use of structures on the restricted land.
- Provides protection of natural resource areas.
- Prevents future flood damage, particularly when vegetated with native vegetation
For more information please visit the following local land trusts:
- Liberty Prairie Conservancy
- Land Conservancy of Lake County
- Lake Forest Open Lands Association
- Citizens for Conservation
- Lake Bluff Open Lands Association
- Barrington Area Conservation Trust
- Lake County Forest Preserve District
“Conservation Easements: A Legacy of Land” brochure produced by the Liberty Prairie Conservancy. http://www.libertyprairie.org/landowner/coneasements.html
“Conservation Information: Glossary,” Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, www.conserveland.org