Conservation Easements

Plowing the field

Conservation Easements

What is an agricultural conservation easement?

  • An agricultural conservation easement is a legal restriction on land development that limits future uses of land to agricultural purposes.

Why would a landowner want to sell an agricultural conservation easement?

  • Selling a conservation easement can permanently protect a family's farmland from being lost to future non-agricultural development
  • Landowners can receive cash for some of the equity tied up in their land and still retain ownership of their land.
  • Conservation easements can be used as estate planning tools to help landowners successfully pass farms on to the next generation.

Eligibility Requirements for State Funding:

The State Agricultural Land Preservation Board has established minimum eligibility requirements for participation in the farmland preservation program. Farmland tracts must:

  1. Be located in an agricultural security area consisting of 500 acres or more.
  2. Be contiguous acreage of at least 35 acres in size unless the tract is at least 10 acres in size and is either used for a crop unique to the area or is contiguous to a property previously preserved with an agricultural conservation easement.
  3. Have at least 50% of the soils on the property in soil capability classes I-IV (as defined by the Lehigh County Soil Survey) and be available for agricultural production.
  4. Contain the greater of 50% or 10 acres of harvested cropland, pasture or grazing land.

Eligibility Requirements for County Funding:

The Lehigh County Agricultural Land Preservation Board will consider farms that do not meet all of the above State minimum criteria for 100% County funded agricultural easement purchases. The minimum criteria for 100% Lehigh County-Funded Easement Purchases are as follows:

1.  The farmland tract must be enrolled in an agricultural security area.
2.  The farmland tract must be at least 10 acres in size.
3.  For farmland tracts between 10 and 19.99 acres, 50% more of the tract must be cropland or pasture.  For farmland tracts 20 acres or larger 40% of the tract must be cropland or pasture.
4.  Contain at least 40% of soils which are available for agricultural production and are of capability classes I-IV, as defined by the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Application Information

Landowners interested in completing an application can get the application here: application

or call the office for an application at 610-391-9583 x 14

The deadline for new applications is July 1st of each year.