The History of Protected Land in Willistown
This interactive map shows how protected land has changed in the Willistown area since we began protecting it in 1979. Interactive functions may not work on mobile devices.
Our land feeds our bodies and souls, and it is the most important legacy we can pass on intact to our children and grandchildren. If you’re a landowner looking to preserve your property, learn how to add the land you love to the many acres already protected in the Willistown area.
What is a Conservation Easement?
The primary tool used to protect land from development in the Willistown area has been the conservation easement, a legal document that allows a landowner to retain private ownership and enjoy certain financial benefits while preserving the natural and scenic resources of their land.
A conservation easement permanently limits a property’s uses in order to protect its conservation values.
When you own land, you also “own” many rights associated with it, such as the right to harvest timber, build structures, excavate minerals, etc. When you place a conservation easement on your land, you permanently give up some of those rights in exchange for protecting the specific features of the land. For example, you might give up the right to build additional residences while protecting wildlife habitat.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement that can be tailored to protect the specific conservation values of each property and meet the financial and personal needs of the landowner. An easement on land containing wildlife habitat might prohibit development while an easement on a working farm may allow farming and the building of additional agricultural structures.
When you create a conservation easement with Willistown Conservation Trust, the Trust takes on the responsibility and legal right to monitor and enforce the easement. The conservation easement is recorded on the title to the land, so all future owners are bound by the terms of the easement. The Trust promises to maintain the characteristics you sought to protect, no matter how often the land changes ownership.
The Easement Process
The Trust is prepared to guide land owners through the process of planning a conservation easement. The steps include:
- Defining the landowner’s objectives
- Preparation of proposal and cost estimate
- Evaluation of the property and natural features
- Development of conservation plan proposals
- Preparation of plan and draft easement
- Preparation of background documentation
- Approval, signing and recording of the final easement