Sonoma Land Trust currently holds 46 conservation easements protecting over 7,000 acres of land throughout Sonoma County and portions of Mendocino County. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and the Land Trust that keeps the land in private ownership while protecting key resources.
Nationwide, organizations and government agencies are increasingly relying on conservation easements as effective and flexible tools because of their ability to be tailored to an individual property based on the common preservation goals of the landowner and the local land trust. The agreement permanently limits specific uses of a property while retaining many of the landowner’s private property rights — including the right to inhabit and use their land within the terms of the easement.
A conservation easement is recorded in the form of a grant deed and is binding on future owners of the property. This ensures that when the property is passed on or sold, it will remain a benefit to the environment and the public forever.
CE Landowner BBQ
Each year, Sonoma Land Trust hosts a special BBQ to celebrate the unique relationships between our conservation easement landowners, partner organizations and agencies, and Land Trust staff. We gather together for a casual afternoon of hiking, kayaking, sharing stories and breaking bread together on one of our conservation easement properties or fee-owned preserves. This is a unique opportunity to build and maintain our working relationships with our conservation easement landowners and connect them with resources to successfully steward their land.
Oak Hill Farm
In 1985, Otto and Anne Teller, devoted environmentalists and farmers, donated a conservation easement over their 677-acre Oak Hill Farm located in the Sonoma Valley. The property had been purchased 20 years earlier as a dairy and pasture and the Tellers, dedicated to the preservation of the land, worked to convert the dairy into what it is today: a thriving organic farm that provides the community with over 200 varieties of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers. Additionally, the property contains over 500 acres of wild, undeveloped land that reaches far into the Mayacamas Mountain range. Following Otto’s passing, Anne has continued to care for and work the land with the same passion she and her husband exhibited throughout their many years working and living together in the Sonoma Valley.
“The conservation easement connects me to a wonderful organization. And it connects me to wonderful friends,” says Anne. “The easement volunteers scan the grounds for me and help me preserve the property. It’s the best way I know to support what I believe in — a healthy Earth — and it’s close to home. What could be better than that?”
Interested in becoming a volunteer conservation easement monitor and connecting with our easement landowners? See our volunteer page for more information!
In 1979, Sonoma Land Trust acquired its first conservation easement, the 78-acre Nefertierra property located in the Mark West watershed of the Mayacamas Mountain range. The original donor, Susan Smith, took an active role in stewarding the property and identified and documented more than 300 species of native plants found throughout the property’s diverse landscapes. Sue shared her knowledge and love of the land through guided hikes with the Land Trust. Additionally, a handful of our volunteers have enjoyed the opportunity to experience the beautiful oak woodlands and chaparral hillsides during their annual monitoring visits.