Over 85% of the land in Wisconsin is owned by private landowners and, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resouces, this land provides habitat for over 90% of Wisconsin's rare and at risk species. In addition to benefitting biodiversity, private landowners can also play an important role in reducing and controlling flooding by maintaining and restoring wetlands on their properties. This means that Wisconsin's private landowners can be key partners to preserving biodiversity, reducing stormwater runoff, and maintaining a quality natural environment in our state. There are many options available to landowners who wish to permanently preserve their lands.

Small White Lady's Slipper

The Benefits of Conservation Easements

Conservation Easements are permanent deed restrictions donated by landowners to public non-profit land trusts and conservancies.

The conservation easement document spells out restrictions on the property such as prohibiting the construction of homes and other structures on a portion of the land.

Donors receive tax donation credits towards their federal income taxes and may also potentially lower real estate taxes. In turn, the donors volunarily contribute cash to the receiving organization to cover front end costs for the initial documentation. In addition, funds are voluntarily contributed for long-term costs of holding the easement, including perpetual monitoring and enforcement.

Beulah Bog Littoral Zone

Donor receipts not expended up front are held in a restricted reserve until needed for management and/or enforcement of easement provisions.

Kettle Moraine Land Trust - Conservation Easement Basics
(70kb pdf file from Kettle Moraine Land Trust)

Learn more about tax benefits.
(382kb pdf file from Land Trust Alliance)

Land Protection Options

Conservation options available to landowners include:

  • Conservation Easements
  • Registry
  • Donations
  • Bequests
  • Land & Bargain Sales
  • Purchase of Developement Rights

Gathering Waters Conservancy, a service organization for Wisconsin Land Trusts, explains these options in detail on their website: Gathering Waters