Conservation Easement Assistance Program
Loudoun County’s Conservation Easement Assistance Program assists landowners with the upfront costs of placing land under conservation easement. Conservation easements are voluntary, deed-restricting property amendments that limit the amount of development that can be placed on a parcel of private land. The land use restriction often results in tax savings for the landowner. Landowners can use easements to protect their farmland, preserve cultural and historic sites, sustain working farms and landscapes and maintain the natural beauty of an area.
To enter into a conservation easement, a landowner works with a land trust to develop a legal agreement that limits the uses of the land, while still allowing landowners to continue to own and use their land for approved purposes. They can also sell it to a third party or pass it on to heirs. The limits of the conservation easement ‘run with the land,’ meaning that even if the land is inherited or sold, the restrictions stay in place. The program provides up to $25,000, or half of the upfront costs of placing land under conservation easement, to land trusts representing qualifying landowners in Loudoun County. The funds will be applied to the landowner’s easement process.
Landowners must be working with a qualifying land trust to be eligible. Landowners interested in learning more about placing their land under a conservation easement should contact a land trust. If the land trust agrees, the land trust will apply on behalf of the landowner.
Contact one of these land trusts for more information:
- Land Trust of Virginia Opens a New Window.
- Northern Virginia Conservation Trust Opens a New Window.
- Old Dominion Land Conservancy Opens a New Window.
- Piedmont Environmental Council Opens a New Window.
- Virginia Outdoors Foundation Opens a New Window.
Program funding can cover:
- Attorney’s fees
- Land appraisal and survey fees
- Processing and document fees
- Stewardship costs
- The online application process is available on a rolling basis throughout the year. A land trust can apply for the program on behalf of a landowner at any time.
- A total of $150,000 in funding will be available annually and will be distributed to applicants who meet the funding criteria.
- Funds will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.
- The application form Opens a New Window. and accompanying documentation will be accepted from land trusts any time throughout the year.
Email for more information Opens a New Window. or call 703-771-5778.
Download the Conservation Easement Assistance Program flyer (PDF). Opens a New Window.
Each landowner listed on the deed must:
- have a gross household income that does not exceed $155,938.
- have property that meets the land requirements below.
- be working with an organization that meets the land trust requirements (see below) and will submit the application on behalf of the landowner.
If a landowner is part of a family LLC, all members’ income must be verified. A family limited liability company (LLC) is formed by family members to conduct business in states that allow LLCs. Members must be related by blood, adoption or marriage. The family LLC is a popular way to protect the assets of a family business against claims by creditors, divide income among generations and assist in estate planning. It is a type of closed corporation.
If a landowner is part of a family trust, all beneficiaries’ income must be verified. A family trust is a trust created to benefit persons who are related to one another by blood, affinity or law. It can be established by a family member for the benefit of the members of the family group. Family trusts acts as an instrument to pass on the assets to future generations. The person who manages the trust is the “trustee.” This person acts on behalf of the trust beneficiaries, who inherit the asset.
Note: The Conservation Easement Assistance Program is limited to “natural” persons, trusts whose beneficiaries are all “natural” persons, and limited liability companies (LLCs) whose members are all “natural” persons. Family trusts that have any beneficiaries, or LLCs that have any members that are trusts, LLCs or other entities do not qualify for the program. If title to the property is held in trust, eligibility shall be based on the combined Virginia individual income of the trust beneficiaries. If title to the property is held by an LLC, eligibility shall be based on the Virginia individual income of all LLC members. The property owner may be required to provide additional information requested by the County to confirm the identity of the actual trust beneficiaries and LLC members, as applicable and the Virginia individual income of such persons. The property owner shall be responsible for demonstrating compliance with the eligibility requirements.
The property must:
- be located in Loudoun County (if parcel is in multiple counties, more than 50 percent of the parcel must be in Loudoun County).
- be capable of being subdivided (except parcels in the Agricultural and Forestal District Program Opens a New Window. ).
- be proposed for use as permanent open space in compliance with the policies set forth in the Loudoun County Comprehensive Plan. Opens a New Window.
- have well-defined future land use and maintenance expectations, which are clearly understood by all involved parties.
The property must not:
- be under current conservation easement.
- be otherwise restricted from development (except parcels in the Agricultural and Forestal District Program Opens a New Window. or under the Land Use Assessment Program Opens a New Window. ).
Land Trust Requirements
Landowners must be working with a qualifying land trust to be eligible.
The land trust:
- must be the conservation easement “Holder” as defined by Virginia Code § 10.1-1009 et seq. Opens a New Window.
- must apply to the Conservation Easement Assistance Program on behalf of the landowners (individual landowners cannot submit applications).
- may be located anywhere (the land must be located in Loudoun County).
Land trusts may submit an application at any time on behalf of the landowner. Applications submitted by landowners will not be considered.
Applications must include:
- Completed application form. Opens a New Window. Opens a New Window.
- Opens a New Wi Opens a New Window. Agreement of conservation easement terms between landowner and land trust*
- Quotes for qualifying services: appraisal, attorney, processing and document fees, and stewardship*
- Proof of individual income (PDF)*. Note: Each family member, beneficiary or LLC member 18 years and older must complete proof of income affidavit.
- Any other information requested by county staff to confirm that the property owner(s) satisfy the eligibility requirements.
*Submit copies through the application or by email. Opens a New Window.
A total of $150,000 in funding will be available annually and distributed to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.
If application requests exceed the available funding for the year, applicants will be encouraged to apply early in the following calendar year.
If selected, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be issued between the land trust and the county. A grant is not approved until the applicant receives an MOU signed by the County Administrator or his designee. The applicant and property owner must remain in compliance with all eligibility requirements at the time the MOU is executed. Per the MOU, when the easement is finalized, the land trust will provide:
- Deed with proof of recordation
- Final invoices for services rendered
Upon receipt of this documentation, the county will award the funding to the land trust within 10 business days.