How to Protect Land

Land protection methods:

  • Conservation easements;
  • Land donations;
  • Acquire land for resale with restrictions added;
  • Purchase or bargain sale;
  • Life estates;
  • Donations of land or conservation easements by will.

Land trusts create privately owned public assets.

Land trusts agree to act as the land's legal guardian in perpetuity. Land protected by a conservation easement remains in the tax base (generally in current use). Conservation easements protect land while allowing it to remain part of a family legacy. At the same time, this protected land is now a public asset in perpetuity.

Thinking of protecting your property?

The Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust would like to help. Since its founding in 1987 amid the building boom of the late ‘80s, Ausbon Sargent's mission has been to protect rural landscape of the Mt. Kearsarge/Ragged/Lake Sunapee region. We hope you will find that the following information describing the methods of land protection helpful as you begin learning how you might protect your land and keep as part of your living legacy.

Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are written specifications governing future use of a property. The terms of an easement are flexible and can be tailored to suit your particular property and situation. However, if you plan to make a donation of the easement to Ausbon Sargent and take a deduction based on the value of the easement, certain conservation purposes must be met.

The owner retains title and use of the land. The restrictions are permanent and bind all future owners. Conservation easements do not necessarily give public access to the land. The staff at Ausbon Sargent can guide you through the conservation easement process.

What is a conservation easement?

Permanent restrictions on land use as a result of a legal agreement between landowner and Ausbon Sargent;

  • The landowner retains ownership to property;
  • The landowner can sell or bequeath property;
  • Terms of the easement are flexible & tailored to the property and landowner’s particular situation;
  • Restrictions become part of the deed and bind all future owners;
  • Easements must provide a public benefit (not necessarily public access);
  • The Ausbon Sargent is the enforcement agency.


Land donations can take several forms. An outright donation to Ausbon Sargent relinquishes full title and ownership now and can have significant tax advantages. You can choose to make the donation through your will and the property will be removed from your estate at the time of your death.

Or you may make a gift of the property now, but reserve its use or residency for you or designated persons. The different types of donations have varied tax advantages.


Land or the development rights to the property can be sold to Ausbon Sargent. However, due to the extremely limited resources of Ausbon Sargent, the land must be of exceptional conservation value or of significant public interest.

A "bargain sale" is another method of preserving land in which a conservation buyer, such as Ausbon Sargent, purchases a property for less than its market value. The difference between the market and selling price can be written off on the landowner’s income tax as a charitable donation. A bargain sale also has the benefit in some cases of reducing a landowner’s taxable capital gains.

Current Use

If you do not plan to develop your land and your land is 10 acres or more, you may be able to reduce your property tax through Current Use assessment. Application for the Current Use Program is made through your selectmen. Current Use status remains with the land when sold and the land cannot be developed without paying a penalty charge.  However, Current Use status is not considered when the property is appraised for estate taxes.

For more information and examples of methods of land protection, contact Land Protection Specialist Andy Deegan by email ( or call him at the Ausbon Sargent office, (603) 526-6555.