Valley Conservation Council and Virginia Outdoors Foundation representatives presented an informational workshop on Conservation Easements at the Highland Center. Sadly, not very many Highlanders were present. A conservation easement is an excellent way to protect ones property for the future while still using it exactly as one pleases assuming that it is not pleasing to clearcut it or turn it into a housing development.
Each easement is tailored to the wishes of the landowners. One can continue to live on the land indefinitely and sell it or pass it on to ones family. All traditional activities such as farming and hunting can continue unless they are specifically prohibited by your own choice in the easement. You may harvest timber in a sustainable manner under a sound management plan. High-value areas such as wetlands or endangered species habitat must be protected. You must pay to have your property appraised but you will receive state and federal tax benefits that more than make up for the costs. An easement does not open your land to the public or cause any other inconvenience.
One thing I learned at this workshop is that an easement is nearly ironclad protection against eminent domain for things like power-transmission lines, for example. All property owners who would like to see their land remain as it is now should consider an easement. I will be glad to talk with anyone about this or you can check the VCC web site, link above, or call them at 877-216-1782 for more info.
John R. Sweet, Mustoe, VA