willbarger creek
Travis County partnered with the Hill Country Conservancy to protect the 286-acre Brockenbrough Ranch in eastern Travis County.

Conservation easements can be a great way for landowners to retain ownership of their property while ensuring that it will remain undeveloped in perpetuity. These easements are deed-recorded legal agreements between a landowner and the easement “holder”, usually a government agency or land trust. While each easement is unique, all conservation easements restrict certain land uses in order to preserve a property’s natural, cultural, or agricultural value.

If you own undeveloped property in Travis County, you may be eligible to work with the County to create a conservation easement. Travis County purchases easements using voter-approved bond funds, and also accepts donated easements, which may provide estate or income tax benefits to the landowner. Travis County voters approved $8.3 million in 2011 for the purchase of conservation easements, and another $16.6 million in 2017.

 Travis County prioritizes properties along identified conservation corridors, properties adjacent to existing preserves, parkland, or other conserved lands, and properties with unique features such as springs or historical/archaeological sites. The targeted conservation corridors include Wilbarger Creek, Gilleland Creek, the Colorado River, Onion Creek, and the Pedernales River.

 When considering a potential easement, the County considers a number of factors:

Property size

Larger tracts are generally preferable, but small tracts with unique features, such as springs or historical/archeological sites, are also considered.

Proximity to parks, preserves, or other conserved lands

Conserving properties close to other natural lands helps create conservation corridors, which have many benefits including providing high-quality wildlife habitat and protecting water resources and scenic views.

Protection of natural and cultural resources

  • Watersheds and springs
  • Wildlife habitat, including habitat for rare and endangered species
  • Historical/archeological sites
  • Heritage trees and old-growth woodlands
  • Native landscapes
  • Riparian areas

Agricultural lands

Working farms and ranches

Level of development threat

Natural areas at the greatest risk from development pressure

If you would like to discuss selling or donating a conservation easement, contact Debra Scott at Debra.Scott@traviscountytx.gov or (512) 854-7214. Please be ready to provide your property’s TCAD ID number and acreage. Learn more about conservation easements from the Texas Land Trust Council or the national Land Trust Alliance.