For landowners, a conservation easement is a way to protect places they love. Farming long term also generates greater economic value to the landowner than selling lots for development.

An agricultural conservation easement is a deed restriction that landowners voluntarily place on their property to protect resources such as productive agricultural land. The agreement is between a landowner and a governmental agency or nonprofit conservation organization and is legally binding upon the land and future owners in perpetuity. The conservation easement protects the land from future development and requires conservation practices that assure proper care of the land, so it remains usable and productive for future generations. Conservation easements are recorded in the Carroll County Land Records.

The Carroll County Agricultural Land Preservation Program administers various programs to preserve agricultural land and other land with conservation value. The majority of land is preserved by paying landowners who volunteer to permanently retire the non-agricultural development potential of their land. Other easements are obtained through donation, via other Carroll County Code requirements, or transfer of development rights.
The easements are generally held by the County, except for MALPF easements, which are held by the State. The farm owner holds fee simple title to the land and continues to farm. The farm may be sold, but the easement, which restricts the development of the property, remains with the land and binds future owners.

For more information, contact the Ag Pres Program staff at 410-386-2214 or

Links to other resources

• Website: “Farmland Preservation and Farm Transition,” American Farmland Trust, National Agricultural Library, US Dept of Agriculture
• Fact Sheet: Agricultural Conservation Easements, American Farmland Trust, January 1, 2016
• Document: Tax Benefits for Donating a Conservation Easement on Your Property, Carroll County Land Trust, July 16, 2018