Purchase of Conservation Easements

Various Land Trust and Government Agencies

Conservation easements often involve the donation of development rights of land. This donation is often used to obtain a tax deduction. However, in some cases, the development rights of land can be purchased by a willing land trust or government program for a one-time cash payment.

Purchased conservation easements are also known as the purchase of development rights (PDRs). If there is funding available for the PDRs, the purchase price is often less than the value of the full value of the conservation easement. In these cases, a PDR transaction may qualify of a bargain sale and tax benefits. However, purchase of conservation easements is funding dependent and funds may not always be available for this type of incentive.

One program offering PDRs is the Texas Farm and Ranch Conservation Program, which was created in 2005 to facilitate acquisitions of development rights on agricultural land. This program was formed in response to high rates of conversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes in Texas. Over particular interest are Texas Coastal Conservation Areas, especially in Chambers, Brazoria, Matagorda, Jackson San Patricio, Nueces, Kleberg, Kenedy, Willacy, and Cameron Counties.

An additional program offering PDRs is Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP). This program offers both Agricultural Land Easements and Wetland Reserve Easements for agricultural land owners, including Indian Tribes, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations.

In some cases, a land trust may be interested in purchasing a conservation easement. A land trust will assess each property on a case-by-case basis to determine if a PDR transaction aligned with their conservation goals and strategic plan.

Other programs may be available which offer this type of incentive. Make sure you research to explore all available options.

Getting Started

As a rule, consult your tax and legal advisor prior to making any decisions about your landowner rights and taxes.

Interested landowners should consider their conservation values and goals. Various programs offer this type of incentive so you may need to research to see what is available and the program requirements.

  • For Those Interested in Texas Farm and Ranch Conservation Program

Program Page

  • For Those Interested in Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Agricultural Conservation Easement Program

Program Page

  • For Those Interested in a Land Trust

    The landowner should research and meet with land trusts.  When a land trust is selected to hold the conservation easement, that entity will guide and assist the landowner through the process.  A list of accredited area land trusts can be found at the Texas Land Trust Council Website.

Program Page


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