What Is a Conservation Easement?

What is a conservation easement? How does California Rangeland Trust protect open spaces? What is ranching conservation? Learn about what we do and why we do it.

Keeping California Open & Beautiful

A conservation easement is an agreement between a landowner and a qualified land trust, conservation group, or government agency regarding the future uses of private property.

As a private property owner, you have a number of private rights that go along with the ownership of your property. By granting a conservation easement, you agree to give up some of those rights. In a conservation easement, the owner of the property, also known as the Grantor of the easement, retains all rights of ownership not specifically prohibited or limited by the easement. These include the rights to exclude public access and to sell the property.

The easement holder, or Grantee, on the other hand, only has rights specifically included in the easement. The rights typically granted by the landowner to the easement holder include the right to some or even all development and the right to monitor the property on a regular basis for any activity that is inconsistent with the purposes of the conservation easement.

California Rangeland Trust’s conservation easements are tailored to fit a landowner’s individual situation, and the terms of the easement are established only after detailed discussions between the landowner and the Rangeland Trust. Landowners continue to have complete control over public access to their property after the completion of a conservation easement.

Types of Conservation Easements


When the landowner donates the purchase price of the conservation easement for significant tax benefits.


When the purchase price of the conservation easement is paid for by one or more funding organizations, groups, or agencies. This still offers tax benefits to the landowner.


A bargain sale conservation easement is a combination of funded and donated easement types.


Mitigation easements help to offset expected adverse impacts of development on loss of farmland, habitat, or riparian areas. These easements are paid for by the developer or mitigating group.