Easements keep land undeveloped and
in rural use such as farm and forest.
•Flexible and individual to protect unique land
features and allow for individual situations
•Perpetual (required for tax benefits)
•Cost effective— keeps land on tax roles
•Significant tax benefits
•The community benefits as well, as easements
protect air quality, soil, water quality, rural
VOF GuidelinesVOF Guidelines
Terms vary depending on
– property’s size
– its physical characteristics
– and its conservation values.
Easements limit Division of land :
Best always to remain as a whole.
Over 150 acres-- two parcels possible depending on
individual property’s conservation values and character
300 acres could be as many as three depending on
characteristics and conservation values.
• DwellingsDwellings:: One to two dwellings permitted
per retained parcel. The second dwelling –
usually guest or farm manager’s house
• 4500 sq. ft review size max for each house
• 6500 sq ft total per parcel or per 100 acres
Other easement terms:
• Forest Management: Stewardship
Plan, BMP’s and Pre-harvest Plan
• Farm Buildings: 4,500 to 10,000
sq ft review size depending on
property’s size and use.
• Stream Buffers: strongly
recommended esp. for perennial
and significant streams or rivers.
Two variations on VOF easements:
Standard VOF conservation easement
New working farm or farmstead variant
Working farm variant contains a Farmstead
where more flexibility is permitted in
exchange for fewer divisions and dwellings
outside the farmstead.
Large farm buildings in farmstead by right.
Working Farm variant also permits:
• more flexibility in uses in a designated
• Housing without limitation in Farmstead
• Ag processing buildings of any size in the
What a VOF easement Does and Doesn’t Do
• You can still sell your land or pass it on to
• You can continue to farm, hunt, fish, or
harvest timber on your land.
• You can change types of crops and continue
rural uses such as home occupations.
• It does NOT give the public access to your
• Easements are totally voluntary, but they
also are forever.
TAX BENEFITS OF EASEMENT DONATION
• Federal Income Tax Deduction: 30% of AGI
for up to six years. (may improve if pending
• Federal Estate Tax Exclusion: Up to $500K
exclusion from Estate Tax for eased land.
• Federal Estate Tax Reduction: Easements
also lower the amount of liability by
reducing the value of land in estate.
• VA State Tax Credit: 40% of easement
value– this credit can be transferred or sold
1997 VA General Assembly created a new fund:
Open Space Lands Preservation Trust Fund
to assist landowners with the costs of conveying
open-space easements and (when funds allow)
the purchase of all or part of the value of the
Open-SpaceOpen-Space PreservationPreservation TrustTrust
• Costs That the Fund May Reimburse:
• 1. Legal costs
• 2. Appraisal and other costs
• 3. All or part of the easement's value
• Priority May Be Given In Applications That:
• 1. Seek cost-reimbursement only
• 2. Demonstrate financial need
• 3. Cover a family-owned and operated farm
• Step One: Contact VOF
Office to get information
• Step Two: Farm visit
• Step Three: Land owner consults advisors
and family and decides to proceed. VOF and
landowner agree on terms for easement
• Step Three A: Talk to mortgage holder
if there is a mortgage on the property.
Steps Four through Six:
• VOF staff does research on the property
• the landowner’s lawyer does a title search
• the landowner, his lawyer, and VOF
develop a deed of easement agreeable to all.
Step Seven: VOF Board of Trustees meets and
approves the easement proposal.
Step Eight: VOF staff makes second farm visit to do
Baseline Documentation Report
• Step Nine: Finalizing deed of easement
• Step Ten: Recording deed in the county
• Extra step: crow with satisfaction that your
land is forever protected.
Conservation Easements – a flexible, cost effective choice for
private landowners to safeguard rural lands and resources.