Conservation Easements: Structuring Effective Documents and Enforcing Terms and Conditions

Navigating Due Diligence and Development Rights, Overcoming Challenges in Amending and Enforcing Easements

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Program Materials

This CLE webinar will examine conservation easements and the legal considerations that must be weighed when drafting and enforcing an easement for preservation of land and natural resources. The panel will discuss the benefits and limitations of these easements as well as the challenges associated with amending and enforcing the easements. Finally, the panel will offer best practices for using conservation easements effectively and flexibly.


A conservation easement is a legally enforceable land preservation agreement between a landowner and either a government agency or a qualified land protection organization for the purposes of conservation of the land and its resources. As such, certain types of development, commercial and industrial uses, and other nuisance activities may be managed while preserving the ownership rights of the land holder, making conservation easements flexible preservation strategies.

However, counsel must understand how to draft, utilize and enforce easements effectively, as the easement holder accepts the document in perpetuity and so holds the risk and responsibility related to its enforcement. Counsel must know how to assess and inventory the property’s preservation value and natural resources, as well as how to identify responsible resource management actions and stewardship priorities and activities for the property.

Stewardship activities on lands subject to a conservation easement are often enabled by donations to a “stewardship fund”. These donations may be beneficial from a tax standpoint for the donors, but they must be carefully drafted to meet applicable legal requirements and to ensure compliance with applicable income, estate and property tax regulations.

Further, because easement holders are responsible for enforcing the easement in perpetuity, they must continually contend with violations by other landowners and third parties, including: trespass or encroachment claims; improper exploitation of natural resources; or claims under the varying state criminal, tort and real property laws.

Listen as our authoritative panel discusses both the challenges associated with drafting effective conservation easements and the considerations for enforcing the provisions of a conservation easement in perpetuity.



  1. Drafting and interpreting conservation easements
  2. Benefits and limitations of conservation easements
  3. Challenges in enforcing easements in perpetuity
  4. Issues associated with the amendment of conservation easements
  5. Encroachment and other legal rights to action


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How should counsel draft and structure conservation easements to maximize benefits to the holder?
  • What are the challenges and state law implications of enforcing easements in perpetuity?
  • How can counsel advise clients on funding and benefiting from stewardship activities?


McHenry, Thomas J.P.
Thomas J. P. McHenry

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher

Mr. McHenry practices general environmental law with an emphasis on air quality, hazardous waste, environmental...  |  Read More

Paulus, William
William F. (Fritz) Paulus, Esq.

Mr. Paulus’ practice focuses on land conservation transactions in Oregon. Currently, he is representing Tillamook...  |  Read More

Raffle, Brad
Brad Raffle, Esq.

Founder and President
Conservation Capital

Mr. Raffle has 25 years of legal practice experience in conservation law, most with the international law firms of...  |  Read More

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