What is a Conservation Easement?

Bluegrass Land Conservancy protects land through donated conservation easements. Also called a conservation agreement, a conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust which protects a property’s agricultural viability, natural habitat, rural heritage, and/or scenic open space in perpetuity. Conservation easements are flexible documents tailored to each property and the needs of individual landowners. They may cover an entire parcel or portions of property.


Each conservation easement is different, tailored to the land, the resources to be protected, and the desires of the landowner. The landowner works with Bluegrass Land Conservancy to decide which activities should be limited to protect the important resources of the individual property. The restrictions must be adequate to protect resources and meet Internal Revenue Service standards.

In most cases, a conservation easement limits future use of the property to agricultural and open space uses. Future reserved rights to build additional residences for family members or employees, and, for larger farms, a limited number of divisions, may be permitted.

After granting a conservation easement, landowners retain ownership of their property and may still use the property for farming, prohibit public access, use the land as collateral for a loan, or sell or transfer title to the property, subject to the terms of the conservation easement. Future owners of the property are subject to restrictions of the conservation easement.

A conservation easement is a complex legal agreement, which is intended to protect property in perpetuity. Its preparation requires the input of many professionals. Landowners are encouraged to consult with their legal and tax advisors when donating a conservation easement. A landowner should anticipate some expenses in donating an easement including the costs of lawyers, accountants, appraisers, and other advisers; as well as a stewardship contribution to ensure the permanent protection of their land. Financial assistance may be available.


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Over 130 families have partnered with Bluegrass Land Conservancy to protect their land, and their reasons for doing so vary, depending on their family and their land. We are honored to have assisted them in a manner that meets their needs and the conservation goals for their farms.

Women Holding Hands


The Monohan Farm is also home to carefully cultivated woodland savannahs. Savannahs represent one of the most unique and productive types of wildlife habitat. Best described as grassy openings or clearings with scattered mature trees, including snags and den trees, woodland savannahs once predominated the landscape of Kentucky. With the conservation of their farm, the woodland savannahs on The Monohan Farm will be protected and remain in perpetuity.


Since Arthur Hancock purchased his first farm in the 1970s, he has seen many of the neighboring farms change hands, some being sold off as smaller parcels. He could have done the same, and for a big profit, but he had other ideas.