Conservation Easement Assistance Program
The Conservation Easement Assistance Program provides financial assistance to Loudoun County landowners in placing their property under a conservation easement. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement in which a landowner retains ownership, use, and enjoyment of their property while they convey certain rights to a qualified land trust to protect farms, forested areas, historic sites, and natural resources.
The assistance program reimburses up to $25,000 in qualifying expenses. County landowners work with a qualified land trust in placing their property under a conservation easement. The land trust submits an application to the assistance program on the landowner’s behalf.
If you are interested in learning more about placing your land in a conservation easement, you may contact one of the following land trusts:
- 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.
The assistance program reimburses up to $25,000 for qualified expenses including:
- Attorney’s fees
- Land appraisal and survey fees
- Processing and document fees
- Stewardship costs
Loudoun County offers guidance for invoices for qualifying expenses (PDF).
- 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 assistance program 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.
A landowner must:
- have an adjusted gross income (AGI) less than or equal to $500,000. If the property is owned by more than one person, the income of each owner must be below the limit.
- own land in Loudoun County that also meets the assistance program’s requirements (see below).
- work with a qualified land trust.
Limited Liability Company’s (LLC) and Land Trusts
If the property is owned by a family LLC or a family trust, as defined by the assistance program, the following applies:
- All beneficiaries of the family trust or members of the LLC, as applicable, must be natural persons and be related by blood, adoption or marriage.
- The adjusted gross income of each member or beneficiary, as applicable, must be less than or equal to $500,000. However, the highest adjusted income of one member/beneficiary shall be excluded.
Applicants must provide verification of income eligibility to qualify for the assistance program.
- must be located in Loudoun County (if parcel is in multiple counties, more than 50 percent of the parcel must be in Loudoun County).
- must be capable of being subdivided (except parcels in the Agricultural and Forestal District Program Opens a New Window. ).
- must not currently be under conservation easement.
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).
Note: A conservation easement may result in certain tax benefits. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting professional to understand any tax implications.
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.
- A copy of the draft Conservation Easement Agreement between the property owner(s) and the Land Trust*
- Itemization for qualifying expenses such as: appraisal, attorney fees, processing and document fees, and stewardship costs.* Find guidance on invoices for qualifying expenses here (PDF).
- A signed Affidavit of Income Verification*
- Any other information/documentation requested by Loudoun County staff to confirm that the property owner(s) satisfy the eligibility requirements of the assistance program.
*Submit copies through the application or by email.
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 and approved, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be issued between the land trust and Loudoun County. Funding is not approved until an executed MOU is signed by the Loudoun County Administrator, or his/her designee. The land trust and property owner must remain in compliance with all assistance program eligibility requirements at the time the MOU is executed. Per the terms of the MOU, when the easement is finalized, the land trust will provide to Loudoun County:
- A recorded conservation easement; and
- Final invoices for qualifying expenses.
Loudoun County will distribute funds to the land trust, within 10 business days of receipt of proper documentation.