Protecting Your Land
with Conservation Easements
The Frederick County Conservation Easement Authority was established in 2005 to provide a means to assist County landowners in protecting and preserving farm and forest land, open space, scenic vistas, historic sites, water resources and environmentally sensitive lands. The primary method for accomplishing this mission is for the CEA to act as a clearing house for conservation easement information, and to provide guidance to property owners interested in further evaluation of easements. Ultimately, it is the property owner's decision as to whether an easement is right for their long term vision for their landholdings.
As of March 2020, there are 9,554 acres in Conservation Easements within the County.
| Land Preservation in Frederick County (as of March 2020)
Frederick County CEA announces
landowner informational video series
WINCHESTER, VA – April 10, 2015 – The Frederick County Conservation Easement Authority and Potomac Conservancy announce the release of a video series to inform landowners of the benefits of conservation easements.
This four video series offers Frederick County landowners an opportunity to learn more about conservation easements. Conservation easements are just one of various options available to landowners as they plan for the future of their land. The video series answers questions about the conservation easement process and includes interviews with landowners and professionals who discuss their experiences with conservation easements.
The following links will redirect you to the county’s YouTube channel to view the selected video.
Video 1: An Introduction (2:57)
Video 2: Landowner Testimonials (7:40)
Video 3: Benefits of Conservation Easements (5:37)
Video 4: Your Easement Support Team (13:28)
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a government agency or non-profit conservation organization that places permanent limits on the future development of the property in order to protect the land.
While often donated by landowners, the County now has the opportunity through state grant funding, to purchase one or more conservation easements from local landowners.
Landowners who establish a conservation easement permanently protect their land while retaining ownership and enjoyment of the property. Landowners do not have to grant public access to conserved properties, and most conserved properties are actively used for farming or as forestland.
The public benefits through the protection of important natural and cultural resources, and local taxpayers never have to pay for public services, such as schools, roads, police, etc. that a new residential development would have demanded.
A conservation easement enables landowners to protect their land permanently, assuring them that their property will remain rural and undeveloped, and restricting it from conversion to large-scale subdivisions or industrial / commercial uses.
Landowners can still farm, and conduct forestry operations. They can even use their properties for uses such as vineyards and bed-and-breakfasts. Of course, landowners maintain ownership and enjoy their land as long as they desire.
Whenever the land is sold or passed to heirs, it remains protected by the permanent legal agreement.
While conservation easements protect land for future generations, they also offer immediate tax benefits to the landowner. Through lower estate taxes for instance, a family that might otherwise be forced to sell their land would be able to pass their land down to the next generation.
In many cases, the donation of a qualified conservation easement in perpetuity qualifies as a non-cash charitable gift which may yield a substantial federal income tax deduction and a state tax credit.
In addition, any unused portion of the state tax credit may be sold to another Virginia taxpayer. The value of the gift, determined by independent appraisal, is the difference in the market value of the land before and after donation of the easement.
| COMMITTEE MEMBERS
|Diane Kearns, Chairman
Term: 08/24/2017 - 08/24/2020
| Todd B. Lodge, Vice Chairman
Term: 08/24/2019 - 08/24/2022
| Elaine M. Cain, Treasurer
Term: 08/24/2018 - 08/24/2021
| John Marker
Term: 09/28/2019 - 09/28/2022
| Judith McCann-Slaughter
Term: 01/10/2018 - 08/24/2020
| Ron Clevenger
Term: 03/23/2017 - 03/23/2020
| Bryan J. Green
Term: 03/14/2018 - 03/14/2021
| Charles E. Triplett
Term: 08/24/2018 - 08/24/2021
| Staff Contact