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What is a conservation easement?                          

Why are they important?

Click on the image to view our conservation easement brochure         

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​A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a land owner and the Land Trust that legally restricts uses of the land in exchange for tax advantages. The principal objective of an agricultural conservation easement is to safeguard the availability of the farmland and the integrity of the community. The land remains in private ownership and is secured for agricultural and other permitted uses under the easement by the owner.


Selling or donating a conservation easement allows landowners to benefit now from the market value of their land by giving up rights to develop in exchange for income and/or estate tax benefits. Landowners can use the tax savings to settle estates, cash out family partnership interests or make improvements to their farms or ranches.
Contact us if you are interested in discussing conservation easement options for your property.

What is mitigation?

Mitigation is a term that is used to describe offsets to the impacts of a project on natural resources, such as agricultural lands or wildlife habitat.  Some examples of projects requiring mitigation are: expansion of a highway, construction of new roads, utilities infrastructure improvements, and housing and commercial developments.  
A mitigation easement is a specific type of conservation easement that is used when a third party, such as a transportation agency, city, county, or private developer, must compensate for the destruction of agricultural land or wildlife habitat in order to complete a project.  
The purpose of a mitigation easement is to ensure that the compensatory site, which is voluntarily provided by the owner, in exchange for financial and/or tax benefits, is permanently protected and will not be degraded by any subsequent owner or holder of interest in the property.
Local jurisdictions, including the State of California and San Benito County, have recognized the importance of addressing the impacts of conversion of our unique and irreplaceable agricultural lands.  The San Benito County General Plan recommends that prime agricultural lands be mitigated at a 1:1 ratio, via in-lieu fees or direct purchases of conservation easements on lands of equal agricultural value.
When mitigation is required for various types of projects in San Benito County, the San Benito Agricultural Land Trust can help to identify, select, and acquire conservation easements or fee-title on appropriate farmland or rangeland, as well as monitor or manage conserved land in perpetuity.
The San Benito Agricultural Land Trust strives to provide customized mitigation solutions by working with local entities and willing sellers to secure easements to meet the agricultural mitigation requirements established in a project’s environmental documents.