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conservation easement criteria

Conservation easements have conservation values.
In accordance with the provisions for conservation easements set up under 170 (h) of the IRS CODE, in order for a property to qualify for a conservation easement it must adequately protect one of five listed conservation resources criteria:

Scenic – Property that is valuable to the community as open space due to its proximity to developing areas, or its impact on a view corridor.  Established by its visibility from a major roadway; in some instances correlated with an actual vehicle count.




Historic or Cultural –Property that is valuable to a community because of its historical or cultural value or its proximity to an historically significant area.  This can even apply to a land use pattern; however, if this is the only criteria being used, National Register Designation is preferred.



Wildlife or Ecological – Property that contains endangered, threatened, or ecologically significant species, or natural systems.  This often includes wetlands and migration corridors, critical habitat as identified by the division of natural resources; however, added to this criteria is that the area be of significant size to insure that, should the property be surrounded by development, the wildlife values can be protected.


Established in accordance with a clearly delineated government policy – Property with significant agricultural or forestry resources.  Agricultural practices as defined under the Farmland Assessment Act definitely qualify; forested properties may qualify as well.




Public Recreation or Education – this has been the criteria most commonly used in establishing trails and greenways which are more significant for the connection they provide to recreational opportunities; an important component of this criteria is the fact that the public must be allowed on the property.



Mountainous Landscape
Black and White Landscape
Mountains and Deer
US government building
Gardening Class

Even if the property meets the above criteria, Utah Open Lands must evaluate the proposed parcel with the following considerations in mind:

  • Whether the property has significant resources that can be protected even if adjacent property is developed;

  • Whether the easement would be difficult to enforce or would require extensive management;

  • Whether the property owner insists on provisions in the easement which UOL believes would seriously diminish the property’s primary conservation values;

  • Whether the property is of sufficient size so that its conservation resources are likely to remain intact even if adjacent properties are developed;

  • Whether the property would be an island of conservation, creating a patchwork of unconnected, protected properties;

  • Whether the conservation resources for which the lands are being preserved are currently in a condition which will insure the long-term viability of those conservation resources;

  • Whether the property is part of a larger conservation plan for the community or region.

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