Conservation Stewardship Fund

The donation of a conservation easement is a major commitment for any landowner. Although tax benefits may result from such a gift, the primary reward for granting an easement is protecting a cherished property forever.

In accepting an easement, we are also making a major commitment in assuming the legal responsibility to carry out the donor’s intentions by upholding the terms of the easement forever. The generous gift of an easement to HHLT helps us further our mission, but each easement also represents a perpetual obligation for us to monitor properties for compliance with the easement terms. Although it is very unusual for grantors of easements to violate terms outlined in those easements, the possibility that violations will occur increases as time passes and properties change hands.

In order for us to properly care for the easements we hold, we must regularly monitor those easements and be prepared to enforce their terms. At a minimum, this involves a modest amount of staff time and travel. In the worst cases, we may need to defend the terms of an easement, perhaps through court action, which could be expensive.


We established the Conservation Stewardship Fund solely for the purpose of covering costs associated with monitoring and defending our easements. It allows our staff to visit each property annually to collect information about current conditions of the land, ensuring the easement donor’s desires are being adhered to. As the fund builds, it will also ensure our ability to take actions that may be necessary to uphold the terms of each easement.

Our policy is to request that landowners make a tax-deductible gift to the Fund at the time of their easement donation. The suggested donation amount, and how it is derived, is provided in the Sources and Uses document. If a donation is not possible at the time of the easement gift, landowners are asked to consider pledging a future contribution that may be donated over several years or as a bequest. We recognize that not all landowners are able to make such a contribution and a cash gift is not a condition of our acceptance of an easement. However, we do ask that each donor consider our costs for protecting their long-term desires for the conserved property.


Donations received for the Fund, and income derived from investing these funds, will only be used for stewardship activities required for us to meet our monitoring and enforcement commitments in perpetuity. Specifically, these activities include:

• Monitoring property under easement held by HHLT; possible expenses include staff travel and time, equipment rental, photography and administration
• Enforcement expenses, primarily legal fees and court costs
• Preventative measures, in addition to monitoring, such as orientation meetings with new landowners, surveys and boundary marking

The Fund consists of principal invested in an HHLT investment account. Income received is expended for the uses specified above, with all principal retained to pay for any extraordinary legal or enforcement expenses, as authorized by our Board of Directors.

Donations to the Fund are pooled in a single account for administration and for investment purposes. Because funds are pooled, contributions made by an individual primarily to safeguard a particular property may be used toward payment of monitoring and enforcement costs for other properties over which we hold an easement. All properties will be defended equally. Special fundraising efforts will be undertaken as necessary to replenish any expenditure of principal or to strengthen the Fund.