You might be familiar with easements outside of conservation. For example, a neighbor might grant you the right to use their driveway. This is a driveway access easement. You might grant a utility company the right to run a power line across your property. This is a utility easement. In both cases, rights are being exchanged. Sometimes those rights are exchanged for money.

For land trusts like Groundswell, a conservation easement grants rights to protect certain conservation values. These conservation values can include important wildlife habitat, wetland and stream protection, or protection of prime farm soils. Groundswell purchases these rights through voluntary legal agreements with landowners to permanently limit uses of the land to protect conservation values. Landowners retain many of their rights, including the right to own and use the land, sell it, and pass it on to their heirs. Groundswell’s conservation easement lands generally remain in private ownership.