Retain ownership of your land while protecting its conservation value in perpetuity

Conservation easements allow donors to retain ownership and use of their land while protecting its conservation value in perpetuity.  A conservation easement is a powerful way for a private landowner to ensure the permanent protection of a special natural place with financial benefits that could make the difference to enable you to keep your land in the family.

For Winnakee, conservation easement can be a valuable way to further our Conservation Strategy impact, when:

  • Fee acquisition is desirable but currently not possible
  • To protect core ownerships and interior forest blocks
  • To buffer and connect fee properties across the landscapes

Easement Stewardship

A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement, voluntarily entered into between a landowner and the Winnakee Land Trust. Conservation easements are intended to protect a property’s forest, scenic, recreational, wildlife and/or ecological values by permanently restricting certain uses and the future development of the land. The majority of easements that the Winnakee Land Trust seeks to hold protect woodlands and the values tied to their stewardship as sustainably managed forests.

Each conservation easement is individually tailored to fit the particular tract of land and the conservation values of that property. It is the responsibility of the land trust, as the holder of the conservation easement, to ensure that the terms of the conservation easement are complied with and that purposes of the conservation easement are honored in perpetuity.

Since the acceptance of its first conservation easement in 1989, the Winnakee Land Trust (WLT) has used conservation easements as a tool to protect over 2,500 acres of privately owned lands across the Hudson Valley. With every easement WLT accepts, we make a commitment to landowners to protect the conservation values of their property forever. This commitment is honored through the work of WLT’s Conservation Easement Stewardship Program. WLT’s Easement Stewardship staff work alongside landowners to achieve two important goals: to safeguard the conservation values identified in the conservation easement, and to connect landowners to resources to help achieve their land stewardship goals.

Safeguard the Conservation Values of the Property

Landowners choose to place conservation easements on their properties to guarantee that the land is permanently protected for certain values. As the easement holder, WLT makes a legal commitment to ensure that the purposes of the easement are achieved. The easement stewardship staff aims to collaborate with landowners to achieve this commitment by upholding the terms of the conservation easement. WLT staff members are available to work with landowners to understand the easement, to evaluate whether certain land uses are compatible with the easement terms, and to resolve any issues together.

One of the best opportunities that landowners and WLT stewardship staff will have to meet and discuss the easement is during the WLT Annual Easement Stewardship Visit. However, we encourage landowners to contact WLT’s Easement Stewardship staff at any time with questions or to request more information.

When should I contact WLT regarding my easement?

In addition to the annual visit, please feel free to contact WLT’s Easement Stewardship staff if you are ever unsure if an activity is consistent with the conservation easement. Each conservation easement is unique. However, WLT generally requests that landowners contact us before:

  • Conducting a commercial timber harvest
  • Building a new structure
  • Exercising a reserved right as defined in the Conservation Easement Agreement
  • Transferring title or selling property

What are my responsibilities as the owner of a property with a WLT conservation easement?

As the owner of an easement-protected property, you are responsible for working with WLT to ensure that use of the property is consistent with the terms of the easement.

Does my conservation easement restrict my ability to sell, bequeath or give my land?

No, you may still sell or convey your land to a different owner at any time and at any price. However, many easements require that separate parcels covered by the same conservation easement stay under a single ownership, as well as prohibit subdivision of parcels. Conservation easements run with the land forever so the property will still be subject to the conservation easement even under new ownership. WLT asks that landowners notify us in writing at least 20 days prior to transfer of title.

For questions about your easement, please contact Jen Adams at

Helping Landowners Achieve their Land Management Goals

Landowners often have multiple goals for their land. WLT aims to make sure that each and every landowner can achieve these goals within the context of the conservation easement. As a land trust with a particular interest in the conservation of working woodlands, WLT encourages sustainable forest management and believes that one of the best ways for landowners to meet their forest management goals is to learn as take advantage of the Landowner Resources.   Landowners can also benefit from WLT’s professional network of certified forest consultants, estate planners, wildlife managers, and other conservation groups throughout New York to access professionals who will help landowners meet their land stewardship objectives. We hope landowners will utilize WLT as a facilitator to access these professionals who can help landowners in activities such as preparing a woodland management plan or acquiring financial assistance for specific management activities. We encourage landowners to contact WLT’s Easement Stewardship staff with any questions or to request more information.


Stewarding lands to reach their optimal ecological potential is essential to Winnakee’s long term conservation strategy. Winnkaee is here to help provide landowners with resources to maximize the resiliency of their land, increase biodiversity by restoring rare species habitats, control harmful invasives, and become part of globally important connective land corridors that secure pathways for many species survival. View Landowner Resources.

Take the Next Step

To explore options for conserving your land, please contact our Executive Director, Bob Davis We welcome your questions and are here to help you and your family with resources on how you may benefit from conserving your land and leaving a lasting legacy.


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