Historic buildings and cultural landscapes are protected through conservation easements granted to the Colorado Historical Foundation. The easements give the Foundation agency to ensure historic features of each site are protected from demolition, deterioration, development pressure, and severe alteration. Generally, easements do not preclude property owners from changing their property's use. The Foundation believes a property's economic viability makes its preservation possible. The majority of the Foundation's easements are specific to building façades to ensure exterior historical characteristics are kept in the same or better condition than when the easement was recorded.
A conservation easement is a contractual agreement between a property owner and an easement-holding organization. It is a legally binding, publicly recorded covenant that survives property transfers, and it is attached to the property deed in perpetuity.
Explore our 100+ Conservation Easement Sites and learn about the social and cultural significance of some of our diverse properties.
Beyond the Buildings Blog Just as we're deeply committed to preserving Colorado's treasured buildings and cultural landscapes, we are also drawn to the diverse people who lived, worked, and gathered within our historic conservation easement sites.
As of January 2023, the Colorado Historical Foundation became the first preservation organization certified by the Colorado Division of Conservation to accept easements from property owners pursuing state conservation easement income tax credits. Easements are also donated to the Foundation to satisfy a condition for receiving grant funding, potential for a federal tax deduction, or because an owner wants to ensure the historic integrity of their site remains long after they are gone.
Why donate a conservation easement?
- Protect your legacy
- Extend public appreciation of a specific place and its history
- Prevent demolition or development
- Stewardship by an organization with preservation knowledge and expertise
- Condition for receiving preservation grants or public funding
- Potential Colorado conservation easement tax credits*
- Potential federal charitable income tax deduction*
- Potential reduced estate taxes*
- Section 106 mitigation strategy
Preservation easements allow the owner to sell, lease, rent or bequeath a property, knowing its historical integrity will remain intact.
How shared stewardship works
Typically, owners of a property with an easement agree to relinquish partial development rights, maintain the property, obtain prior approval from the easement holder for alterations or additions, and permit the easement holder to make annual inspections.
The easement holder documents and communicates recommendations resulting from inspections, and ensures compliance with the terms of the easement. The Foundation works with property owners not only to preserve a property's historical character, but to find solutions for making the site code-compliant, economically viable, and a desirable places to live, work or visit.
Easement Grantee Responsibilities
The Foundation, as a qualified conservation easement holding organization, upholds the following principles:
- Established policies and donation criteria
- Dedicated professional staff and resources
- Model deed of easement and methodology for baseline documentation
- Formal monitoring plan, site visits, and open communication with owners
- Well-maintained easement records
- An endowment fund for stewardship and legal defense
- Capacity to enforce easement restrictions, through legal means when necessary
*Tax benefits to qualified owners are calculated based on decreased valuation due to easement restrictions placed on the property, and as determined by a qualified appraisal. Conservation easement tax credits may be transferrable (sold) to other qualified state tax-paying entities. The Colorado Historical Foundation provides this information for the purpose of general knowledge only. It does not constitute tax or legal advice. Property owners are encouraged to consult their own legal and accounting professionals when considering the implications of granting a conservation easement.
EASEMENT SITES IN THE NEWS...
New fence at the edge of Cielo Vista Ranch interrupts 150-year-old religious pilgrimage (Kate Perdoni, Rocky Mountain PBS, September 2021)
Mancos businesses awarded grants for building upgrades (The Journal, October 2021)
State grant boosts theater restoration (KOAA, October 2021)
Downtown Loveland Feed and Grain receives $5 million renovation grant (Loveland Herald, December 2021)