Saving Natural Lands

Protect Your Land

Discover the ways the Conservancy saves natural land!

Where We Work

From the Susquehanna Riverlands to the Pennsylvania Highlands…

Success Stories

Learn more about our recent acquisitions!

Since 1969 the Conservancy has been working to save important natural places for people and wildlife. As more land is lost each year to development, it’s our mission to protect and maintain carefully selected habitat in its natural state as a balance to our growth.

Each conservation project is as unique as the property itself, and we are grateful to work with wonderful partners who allow us the flexibility necessary to save nature however possible!

Photo by Michelle Johnsen Photography

Protect Your Land

If you’re interested in finding out how to protect your land, take a look at the various options outlined below. We’re always up to the challenge of finding creative ways to protect land, so if you have questions don’t hesitate to reach out to chat about your goals.

Buying Land to Save It

The main way the Conservancy protects land is outright ownership – we’ve preserved thousands of acres this way! This method allows the Conservancy to acquire strategically-important natural lands for preservation, and we rest easier knowing it will be preserved and stewarded forever. These projects are typically completed with either a partial or full donation of land, and many donors wish to place special restrictions on the property upon transfer to the Conservancy. We use public and private grant funding to make up the balance of the project costs. Our funders require certain restrictions on the deed, usually that the lands remain open to the public free of charge. Our lands are kept in a natural state and used for hunting, fishing, hiking, bird watching, cross country skiing, picnicking, and other outdoor activities, as well as habitat protection.

Photo by Michelle Johnsen Photography

Conservation Easements

The Conservancy also holds hundreds of acres in conservation easements. In a conservation easement, the land remains in private ownership, but a voluntary, legally-binding agreement between a landowner and conservation organization places restrictions on the land for all future owners. Typical restrictions include use and development rights that would be in conflict with preservation of the natural, scenic, recreational, educational, and historic resources.

We work with landowners to identify resources that are important to the landowner and to establish a plan to protect what they value. Once finalized, the conservation easement follows the deed and is tied to the land forever. We monitor the conservation easement areas on a yearly basis to ensure the landowner manages the property according to the conservation easement.

Benefits of Protecting Your Land

With partial to full donations of the value of conservation easements or land, the landowner may be able to realize a tax benefit. The Conservancy advises potential donors and their families to work with their attorney, accountant, or financial adviser. Appraisals are an essential part of the process to value donations of land, and they are based on highest and best use (or development value) of the land. Conservation easements are valued at the difference between the highest and best use and the value with the conservation easement restrictions in place.

Photo by Michelle Johnsen Photography

Where We Work

The Conservancy protects natural lands (forests, meadows, wetlands, etc.), preserving them in their wild state forever. Though we do not preserve farmland, we often work closely with our sister organization, the Lancaster Farmland Trust, who works solely to preserve farmland with agricultural easements.

As you might guess, the Lancaster Conservancy was founded to protect land in Lancaster County. However, nature doesn’t recognize man-made boundaries, so we work wherever there is a need, particularly when that land is along a stream. As a result, we actually hold land in four counties:

  • Lancaster
  • York
  • Chester
  • Dauphin

Recently, we have so many critical conservation projects in York County that we established a subsidiary called the York Wildlands. Read on below to find out more about the Conservancy’s newest adventure!

Photo by Jenn Teson

York Wildlands

York County currently has more natural land remaining than Lancaster, and we recognize that land preservation is “now or never.” We created York Wildlands, LLC as a subsidiary to the Lancaster Conservancy to help support our acquisition projects in York County.

Our wonderful sister organization in York County, the Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York (FNLTY), has been incredibly successful with their model of protecting natural and agricultural land with easements. However, some landowners are only interested in a full sale of their property, and that’s where we come in. We are proud to work in concert with FNLTY to protect land in York.

Choosing Conservation Projects

With ever-increasing development pressure, we try to preserve properties with the highest conservation values and recreation potential. To do this, we use LYNAS!

LYNAS stands for Lancaster-York Natural Area Scoring. It is a Geographic Information System (GIS) based model for prioritizing the Conservancy’s land protection efforts, giving each property in our region a score from 1-100. It melds cutting edge conservation science with our focus on land, water, and community to help the Conservancy proactively acquire properties that strategically serve the public and further our mission.

Success Stories

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