Eligibility Requirements

Property must meet the following minimum criteria in order to be considered for either a purchased or donated conservation easement:

1. The property shall be located in Pendleton County

2. Qualifying property shall be land that is used or usable for agriculture, horticulture or grazing. Also eligible are:

  • Wetlands that are part of the qualifying property
  • Woodlands that are a) part of or appurtenant to the qualifying property; or b) held by common ownership of a person or entity owning qualifying property

3. No commercial or industrial structure shall be located on the parcel

4. Clear title of the easement must be established, and the application must be signed by the property owner(s).

5. The property shall not have any current or past uses that would render the establishment of a conservation easement inconsistent with the intent of the Act or this Program. The Pendleton County Farmland Protection Board shall make such determination after consideration of all the facts and circumstances.

6. In cases where a third party owns the subsurface mineral rights, the Pendleton County Farmland Protection Board will accept easements only if:

  • The third party mineral owner agrees to prohibit any surface mining, and
  • The third party oil and gas owner agrees to construct wellheads as determined by the Board; or
  • The probability of surface mining is considered to be extremely unlikely as determined by the Board after consideration of all facts and circumstances. Such considerations shall include, but shall not be limited to: past or current surface mining in the vicinity, the identity of the third party owner and whether they are still in existence, and the probable extent of such minerals and the resultant financial attractiveness.

No minimum property size has been established, but priority for the purchase of conservation easements and the allocation of costs associated with donated easements will be based on the Farmland Protection Ranking Criteria (see Appendix II for Ranking Criteria).

What is a Conservation Easement?

A conservation easement is the mechanism by which West Virginia law and this program enable the voluntary protection of farmland. The conservation easement is a legally-binding, permanent, and enforceable contract between the property owner and the easement holder, in this case, the Pendleton County Farmland Protection Board, and/or other co-holder(s).

The property owner(s) continue to have clear ownership title to the property, but are legally bound to the terms set forth in the conservation easement. In the case of Conservation Easements for Farmland Protection, it is the open, undeveloped, farmable character of the land that is to be protected, but each easement is customized to be specific to each parcel of land.

The conservation easement is recorded as a Deed of Conservation Easement in the Office of the County Clerk of Pendleton County. The Deed of Conservation Easement “runs with the land” and transfers from owner to owner in perpetuity.

The easement holder, in this case the Pendleton County Farmland Protection Board, has the affirmative obligation and legal authority to prevent or reverse any development, use, or man-made changes to the land that are inconsistent with the Deed of Conservation Easement. Once recorded, the Deed of Conservation Easement cannot be reversed.