Conservation Easement Process
In order to determine whether a piece of property has conservation potential, a site visit must be conducted. An initial site visit will be conducted by a Utah Open Lands staff member. Other visits to the property will be required in the future, and we hope this will not be an inconvenience for you.
Current Conditions / Baseline Documentation Report
In accordance with IRS regulations and in compliance with Utah Open Lands monitoring guidelines, the current condition of the property must be established through a report. The IRS stipulates that the landowner may provide this document to the Grantee organization, or our organization can put the necessary documents together. This report will consist of maps, pictures and a narrative description of the parcel. All parties must agree at the signing of the conservation easement that the baseline document serves as an accurate representation of the property. This baseline document is updated on an annual, semi-annual, or in some instances, a quarterly basis by the Grantee (UOL) to ensure that the terms of the conservation easement are enforced.
Conservation Easement Draft
A draft of the conservation easement can be done by Utah Open Lands staff, or the landowners’ attorney. Utah Open Lands insists that the landowner consult an attorney regardless of who drafts the easement. Once the easement is in draft stage, the landowner and Utah Open Lands staff will review the document, suggesting changes and applying the language to a ground proofing test of the property—primarily to insure that the easement achieves the preservation of the conservation resources on the property. A final draft is reviewed by both the landowner’s attorney and Utah Open Lands’ attorney. If the landowner chooses to waive his/her right to an attorney, Utah Open Lands respectfully requests that the landowner sign a letter acknowledging that Utah Open Lands made you aware of your right to seek legal counsel.
As with any land transaction, it is important that the landowner verify that he/she has clear title to his/her property. For this purpose, we require that the landowner provide us with title insurance.
In some instances landowners may or may not be aware that they do not own the mineral estate of their property. This can be a critical issue in any tax value a landowner is interested in pursuing. If the mineral rights have been severed from the property after 1973, the landowner must obtain a geologist report indicating that the presence of any mineral of monetary interest, which could be extracted from the property, is “so remote as to be negligible.” Please contact Utah Open Lands as soon as possible if this is the case.