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Conservation Restriction Review Program

Find details here on the Conservation Restriction (CR) Review Program, including the DCS Model CR and Submission Form, and links to other resources you may find helpful in preparing your CR for review.

A conservation restriction is a legally enforceable agreement whose purpose is to ensure permanent protection of specific conservation values while permitting limited land uses consistent with the protection of said conservation values. Different from term-limited restrictions, conservation restrictions, as defined in Sections 31-33 of Chapter 184 of the Massachusetts General Laws, are permanent restrictions that require the approval “in the public interest” of the Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. DCS manages all reviews for CRs that will be held by charitable corporations/trusts, or municipalities.

Important Considerations

  • Conservation Restrictions (CRs) may be granted by public or private landowners to qualified organizations. The landowner granting the CR is the “Grantor”.
  • Organizations qualified to hold CRs (the “Grantee”) include governmental units (e.g., Conservation Commissions or Water Supply Divisions) and non-profit organizations whose purposes include conservation of land or water (e.g., a land trust/conservancy or similar organization). CRs may be “co-held” by more than one grantee.
  • The Grantor and Grantee may not be the same entity, nor may they be divisions of the same entity (e.g., a Select Board and Conservation Commission of the same town).
  • Several municipalities have restricted multiple parcels acquired using Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding using one CR. This approach may be useful in certain situations where a municipality is able to work with one grantee on restricting numerous parcels. DCS can provide examples of these types of CRs that are on record.
  • Amendments to existing CRs must go through the submission and review process in the same manner as a new CR. Parties are encouraged to contact DCS to discuss proposed amendments prior to formal submission.
  • Practitioners are strongly encouraged to follow DCS’ Model Conservation Restriction (link below).
  • Contact John Gioia, DCS’ Conservation Restriction Reviewer, at john.gioia@mass.gov, with any questions as you prepare your CR for submission and review.

To Submit a CR For Review

  1. Download and complete the submission form (link below)
  2. E-mail the submission form, draft CR, and required attachments (see ‘Attachments’ section of the submission form) to john.gioia@mass.gov and denise.pires@mass.gov. Once your complete submission is received, we will email an acknowledgement letter.
  3. Review the “CR Review Process – General Outline” document (below) for details on the review process.
  4. The Model Conservation Restriction was officially updated and posted in June 2021 (2021 Model CR). Conservation projects that have begun prior to June 2021 under the assumption that they would use the May 2018 Model CR may continue using that Model or may use the 2021 Model CR. New conservation projects should use the 2021 Model CR.

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