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.

Donations and Purchases of Land

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 conservation, which we will protect and steward forever.

These projects are completed through either full or partial donations of land or an outright purchase. With partial donations and outright purchases 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 managed 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.

Conservation Easements

Photo by Michelle Johnsen Photography

The Conservancy also holds hundreds of acres in conservation easements. Protecting your land with a conservation easement means you will still own the land. We work with owners to create a legally binding agreement that is unique to each property but shares many of the same processes.

With a conservation easement you are giving up your development rights for all or part of the property while continuing your ownership. Giving up the development rights ensures protection of natural, cultural, and scenic resources. You may decide to open your land to the public, but public access is not required.

We work with landowners to identify resources that are important to them and to establish a plan to protect what they value. Once finalized, the conservation easement is recorded and, like a deed when you sell a property, a conservation easement 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 full or partial 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 of the land. For conservation easements the value is generally the difference between the highest and best use and the value with the conservation easement restrictions in place.

If you are interested in protecting your land or have any questions, please reach out to Kate Gonick, Senior Vice President of Land Protection and General Counsel, at or call the Lancaster Conservancy at 717-392-7891.

Where We Work

Photo by Christian Przybylek

The Conservancy protects natural lands (forests, meadows, wetlands, etc.), preserving them in their wild state forever. Though we do not preserve farmland, in Lancaster County we often work closely with our sister organization, the Lancaster Farmland Trust, which preserves 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 land is along a waterway. As a result, we actually hold land in four counties: Lancaster, York, Chester, and Dauphin.

We protect land in Lancaster County with both conservation easements and acquisitions.

In York County we work with our wonderful sister organization, the Farm and Natural Lands Trust of York County, to protect land with conservation easements. Since some landowners in York County are interested in transferring their property for protection, the Conservancy serves that limited role in York County municipalities along the Susquehanna River.

Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape

The Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape (SRCL) is one of eight conservation landscapes supported by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). It includes land along the Susquehanna River in Lancaster and York counties, and it involves collaboration of communities and organizations working to protect land, steward natural and cultural resources, connect people with natural spaces, and promote sustainable economic development. The Lancaster Conservancy serves as the external lead for the SRCL, and we make it a priority to conserve critical natural lands along the river.

Susquehanna Riverlands Conservation Landscape

Choosing Conservation Projects

With ever-increasing development pressure, we try to protect 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 model based on Geographic Information System (GIS) 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