With it, we can:


Preserve open space


Maintain the integrity of open land easements


Acquire easements


Assist landowners with the decision-making process


Educate others to understand the value of conservation


Pass on the best of our values to the next generation



What follows is a brief outline of the steps involved with donating a conservation easement. We have found it helpful to inform landowners ahead of time about the easement process so they know what to expect and can ask any questions they may have regarding the process.

1. Introduction of Land Trust and Landowner. This is an opportunity for landowners to share with the SCLT staff their goals, needs and interests regarding their property. The SCLT staff explains the role of the SCLT and how conservation easements work.

2. Property Visit. It is important for SCLT to see the property firsthand and to be familiar with its different features and characteristics. We also fill out a “Criteria for Conservation Project” form.
Click here to preview the form.

3. Completion of Landowner Questionnaire. This is a short questionnaire that we ask all landowners to complete. It tells us more about specific interests that should be addressed in the conservation easement.

4. SCLT Board Approval. The SCLT Board of Directors must approve all protection projects.

5. Completion of Title Research. The SCLT will need title information that ensures that the title is clear.

6. Resolution of Mortgage Issues. If the land is mortgaged, the mortgage must be subordinated for the conservation easement to be effective and for a tax deduction to be available.

7. Determination of Conservation Easement Tax Deductibility. There are certain IRS requirements that must be met in order for an easement to be tax deductible. It is recommended that the landowner contact their accountant to discuss this information.

8. Conservation Easement Drafting and Discussion of Conservation Easement Terms. The SCLT usually prepares the first draft of the easement and then the landowner and his/her lawyer review it. This can require a significant amount of time depending on the complexity of the easement. The SCLT is in frequent contact with landowners, or their representative, in order to create a mutually acceptable easement document.

9. Legal Description for the Property. The SCLT will need to be provided with accurate legal descriptions and maps of the property. If the property does not have a survey, then one can be contracted with a surveyor or, in some cases, a surveyor can prepare a metes and bounds legal description.

10. Designation and Legal Description of the SCLT Trust Parcel. State law requires that the SCLT have outright ownership of a “trust parcel” to which the conservation easement becomes appurtenant. This gives the SCLT legal standing to enforce the easement.

11. Signing of Final Conservation Easement. This can be done via the mail or at our office. In either case, the landowner’s signature must be notarized.

12. Recordation of the Conservation Easement. The signed easement documents, usually including the Baseline Report, are recorded at the county courthouse. The original is then returned to the SCLT, and the SCLT sends a copy to the landowner.

13. Stewardship Gift. We invite conservation easement donors, if they are able, to assist the SCLT with the cost of monitoring and enforcing the conservation easement in perpetuity. The amount of these contributions varies.

14. Completion of an Appraisal. If an easement donation is tax deductible, the easement gift must be appraised to establish the value of the charitable contribution. The appraisal is completed after the easement is signed. It is useful, however, to involve an appraiser earlier in the process if the extent of the tax deduction is an important factor in the design of the conservation easement.

P.O. Box 763, Rehoboth Beach, DE  19971 | Phone: 302.227.0287 | Fax: 302.227.2326 | wobaker@sclandtrust.org

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