Resources for Conservation Easement Landowners

What is a Conservation Easement? A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. It allows you to continue to own and use your land and to sell it or pass it on to heirs.  Conservation easements run with the land, therefore future landowners need to abide by the restrictions as well. 

 

Reserved Rights: You may have reserved rights in your easement document that allow certain types of development or activities on your protected property. Some reserved rights may be permitted only once, while others are perpetual. Certain activities are restricted to a portion of the easement area, while others are unrestricted as to location. In most cases, prior consent by Blue Ridge Conservancy is required before the commencement of any construction or the execution of other reserved rights. When prior consent is required, it is very important that you notify Blue Ridge Conservancy and submit plans in advance. If a planned activity is in compliance with the conservation easement, Blue Ridge Conservancy will send written approval. If it is not in compliance, you will be asked to submit alternate plans. A record of all exercised reserved rights is kept in our permanent files.

You are responsible for being aware of and complying with all laws on your property. If the law requires permits or notification of any government agencies before undertaking an activity, you must complete those steps before going forward. Blue Ridge Conservancy is responsible only for evaluating your plans with regard to the conservation easement. Likewise, when government officials evaluate your plans, they will not consider whether your plans meet the terms of the conservation easement.  We are committed to working with you in a timely manner to ensure any proposed activity is appropriate.  We have included a list of management resources at the end of this manual, and Blue Ridge Conservancy staff is always available to answer questions or recommend professionals we have worked with in the past.   

Annual Monitoring: Periodic monitoring is crucial to the continued security of the conservation values protected by easements and is necessary to fulfill IRS and Land Trust Alliance requirements. Monitoring establishes a record of responsible stewardship and detects issues early. It also ensures Blue Ridge Conservancy and the landowner maintain a good working relationship. Easement monitoring involves an annual visit from Blue Ridge Conservancy staff or volunteer to inspect the easement area and document any changes. You are always welcome to accompany us during a monitoring visit. Blue Ridge Conservancy will notify you prior to monitoring your property.

Changes in Ownership: As with any property, land subject to a conservation easement changes hands over time. In order to ensure perpetual protection of our conservation easements, we ask that you notify all potential buyers and leasers about the easement on your property. We are available to speak to prospective buyers regarding the terms of the easement. We also ask that you notify Blue Ridge Conservancy if you sell your property or if you transfer ownership to another party.

It is very important that prospective landowners of property protected by conservation easements understand the significance of the easement: what it means, its restrictions, as well as Blue Ridge Conservancy’s monitoring protocol.  It is imperative that we are notified of new landowners so we can contact them, introduce our organization, and ensure the conservation easement is understood.  In addition, we will explain our stewardship program and answer any questions the new owners may have.  Establishing contact immediately with the new landowners helps us to minimize misunderstandings and prevent violations of easement terms.

 
 

Contacts for Landowners

Blue Ridge Conservancy encourages landowners to be good stewards of their easement property.  Below are resources for land management issues relating to erosion control, farm management and sound timber management.  Before implementing any land management activities consult your easement and contact Blue Ridge Conservancy.  

 
NRCS Logo.png

Natural Resource Conservation Service

NRCS puts over 70 years of experience to work in assisting owners of America's private land with conserving their soil, water, and other natural resources. Cost shares and financial incentives are available in some cases. Every county in North Carolina is served by a Soil and Water Conservation District and NRCS office.

Alleghany County                   Ashe County                           Avery County                         Watauga County
90 S Main St.                          134 Government Circe          146 West B Street, Unit 3        971 West King St
Sparta, NC 28675                   Jefferson, NC 28640              Newland, NC 28657               Boone, NC 28607
336-372-4645                         336-246-8875                        828-733-2291                         828-264-3850

Yancey County                                               Mitchell County                                  Wilkes County
22 Hwy 19 E By-Pass, Suite 1                       11943 S Hwy 226                               207 W Main St.  
Burnsville, NC 28714                                  Spruce Pine, NC 28777                      Wilkesboro, NC 28697
828-682-2466                                               828-765-5049                                     336-838-3622

 
NEW_EXT_LOGO_color.jpg

North Carolina Cooperative Extension                     

NC Cooperative Extension gives residents easy access to resources and expertise of NC State University and NC A&T State University through educational programs, publications and events.  Agents deliver unbiased, research-based information on economic prosperity, environmental stewardship and improved quality of life. 

Ashe County                                                   Alleghany County                   Watauga County
134 Government Circle, Suite 202                  90 South Main St                    971 W. King Street
Jefferson, NC 28640                                       Sparta, NC 28675                   Boone, NC 28607
336-846-5850                                                  336-372-5597                          828-264-3061

Avery County                                                 Mitchell County                      Wilkes County
805 Cranberry Street                                    10 S. Mitchell St                     201 Curtis Bridge Rd. Suite A
Newland, NC 28657                                      Bakersville, NC 28705            Wilkesboro, NC 28697
828- 733-8270                                                828-688-4811                          336-651-7331

Yancey County
10 Orchard Dr.
Burnsville, NC 28714
828-682-6186

 
SWCD.jpg

Soil & Water Conservation District Offices             

NC Division of Soil and Water Conservation cooperates with federal agencies and local partners to administer a comprehensive statewide program to protect and conserve the state's soil and water resources. The Division delivers programs in non-point source pollution management, cost share for agricultural best management practices, technical and engineering assistance, soil surveys, conservation easements, and environmental and conservation education.

Alleghany County                               Ashe County/New River                  Avery County                                      
90 South Main St, Room 200          134 Government Circle, Suite 102      PO Box 190/146 West B Street
Sparta, NC 28675                               Jefferson, NC 28640                        Newland, NC 28657                     
336-372-4645                                      336-846-5258                                 828-733-2291                        

Mitchell County                                  Watauga County                                 Wilkes County                       
11943 South Highway 226                971 West King Street                           207 West Main Street, Room 244
Spruce Pine NC 28777                       Boone, NC28607                                Wilkesboro, NC 28697          
828-765-4701 x 3                                828-264-0842                                     336-838-3622 x 3                   

Yancey County
22 East Bypass, Suite 1
Burnsville, NC 28714
828-682-2466

North-Carolina-Forest-Service-logo-e1462289395640.jpg

North Carolina Forest Service                         

NC Forest Service is directly involved with forest management assistance to private landowners, reforestation services, forest fire prevention and suppression, and insect and disease control programs.

Alleghany County                               Ashe County                                       Avery County
PO Box 163                                        629 Ashe Central School Rd              242 Prison Camp Road
Sparta, NC 28675                               Jefferson, NC 28640                           Newland, NC 28657
336-372-8142                                      336-982-2471                                      828-766-8043

Mitchell County                                  Watauga County                                 Wilkes County
125 Forest Service Rd                        655 Landfill Road                           638 New Browns Ford Rd
Bakersville, NC 28705                        Boone, NC 28607                             Wilkesboro, NC 28697
828-688-9405                                      828-265-5375                                      336-973-4104

Yancey County
PO Box 1288
Burnsville, NC 28714
828-682-6788

rc&d.png

Resource Conservation & Development Program      

Blue Ridge RC&D Council is designed to address needs and opportunities in the area of water management, land management, community development, and land conservation.

Blue Ridge RC&D
11943 South 226 Hwy, Suite C
Spruce Pine, NC28777
828-765-4701 ext 5

Natural-Heritage-Program_logoColor_floating1.png

North Carolina Natural Heritage Program                           

The program serves as an information clearinghouse in support of conservation of the rarest and most outstanding elements of natural diversity in the state. These elements of natural diversity include plants and animals which are so rare or the natural communities which are so significant that they merit special consideration as land-use decisions are made. Natural Heritage Program inventories, catalogues, and supports conservation of the rarest and the most outstanding elements of the natural diversity of our state.  

Natural Heritage Program
1601 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1601
877-623-6748    

Wildlife Resources Commission 

The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is the state government agency created by the General Assembly in 1947 to conserve and sustain the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input.  The Commission is the regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of N.C. fishing, hunting, trapping and boating laws.   

Wildlife Resource Commission

1751 Varsity Dr.

Raleigh, NC 27606

919-707-0010