How we work

Let’s keep it beautiful! Land conservation is one of the most effective ways to preserve the wild beauty and rural character of our region. Productive farms, natural areas, clear rivers and streams, and the remarkable natural and cultural resources of our region can be preserved through our voluntary and cooperative approach to conservation.


 

Our guiding strategy is informed by Southern Oregon Land Conservancy’s Conservation Plan and through our VISION 20/20 initiative, which strives to safeguard 20,000 acres of high-priority land by the year 2020. So far, we've conserved 10,000 acres throughout the region, utilizing two main strategies: conservation easements and land ownership.


Conservation easements

Conservation easements are a way for private landowners to ensure that their vision for their land, lifelong stewardship, and family heritage live on for generations to come. Conservation easements promote best management practices, while restricting or limiting activities that may diminish the natural value of the land, such as clear-cutting, subdivision, and intensive development.

Lands that have “high conservation values”—determined by size, diversity, and uniqueness of the  property—are likely eligible for a conservation easement. Working lands (e.g., farms, ranches, and forests), relatively undisturbed and diverse habitat, and lands with unique features (e.g., major streams and rivers or a scenic view) may also fall into this category.

Conservation easements are most commonly donated to Southern Oregon Land Conservancy. In some rare cases, where the land has exceptional conservation values offering significant public benefits, grants or other funding may be available to purchase an easement.

To find out if your land meets the criteria for a conservation easement, please complete the Property Information Form.

A few important things to know about conservation easements:

  • Landowners continue to own the land—maintaining their ability to sell, lease, or bequeath the land with a conservation easement on it
  • The easement “runs with the land” and becomes forever part of the property’s title, even if the property is sold at some point
  • The terms of a conservation easement are determined by the needs and goals of both the landowner and Southern Oregon Land Conservancy, as well as State and Federal law
  • While an easement usually covers the entire property, areas that have few or no conservation values—such as home sites—may have no conditions on them
  • Income tax, estate tax, property tax, and/or gift taxes may be reduced or eliminated
  • Public access to the land is not a requirement

Once a conservation easement is in place, Southern Oregon Land Conservancy is legally bound to ensure any terms of the easement are upheld by current and future landowners. This is accomplished through an annual monitoring site visit, and sharing resources and best management practices.


Land Ownership

In special instances, when the conservation values of a property are extremely high and match specific funding criteria, Southern Oregon Land Conservancy may choose to purchase the land, usually through a bargain sale. Owning and managing land requires additional resources and organizational capacity, and therefore must meet a higher conservation threshold. Land may also be donated, transferring ownership to Southern Oregon Land Conservancy (now or as a future gift through a will or bequest). Please contact us if this option is something you are thinking about.