How a Conservation Restriction Works

Landowners who seek conservation restrictions (sometimes called conservation easements) share OCT’s desire to protect and enhance forever the natural and scenic resources in our Orleans community. Basically, a conservation restriction (CR) is a legal agreement between you, as a property owner, and a land trust like OCT or a government entity. It is designed to permanently restrict certain uses and activities—such as development—that may take place on all or a part of a property, and thereby protect the land’s conservation values.

A CR agreement is tailored to your property, your interests as the landowner, and to the policies and purposes of OCT as the restriction holder. Since 1970, we have worked with more than three dozen families to place more than 100 acres under conservation restrictions. While CRs are typically donated, OCT will consider purchasing a CR under the right circumstances.
OCT staff monitors each CR at least once every other year, depending on how the property is used.

With a conservation restriction in place, you continue to own the land. You can sell it or pass it on to your heirs. The CR “runs with the land”—meaning that you, as the original owner (and all subsequent owners) must honor the restrictions to which you agreed. The CR is recorded at the Barnstable County Registry of deeds, so that all future owners and lenders will become aware of the CR when they obtain title reports.

Benefits of a CR

There are many benefits of a conservation restriction—to the property owner, the Trust, and all Orleans residents and visitors who treasure the beauty and accessibility of the wondrous natural resources around us. You could seek a CR to:

Permanently protect your land from excessive or inappropriate development while retaining private ownership. Ensure that the resource value of your land will be protected in perpetuity, regardless of who owns the property in the future. Receive property tax relief and federal income tax relief. Cape Cod towns typically offer property tax reductions to landowners who place conservation restrictions on their land. See details in FAQ below.


You can download a brochure on the income tax advantages of conservation restrictions (known as conservation easements outside Massachusetts) from the Land Trust Alliance.

“Conserving the land was a nice coming-together of the family. We’re so happy that, with all the fun we’ve had on the land, it will be passed on to future generations. It feels good that we actually helped in our small way to protect the Cape’s environment.”
—Peter Johnson, whose family placed a CR on their Pleasant Bay property