Conservation Easement Program

Tennessee’s battlefields and war-related historic resources are irreplaceable tangible reminders of the state’s rich military history. The easement program protects these historically significant sites, buildings, and structures from destruction or inappropriate change, thus ensuring their preservation and interpretation for future generations. By accepting to hold a conservation easement, the Tennessee Historical Commission and the State of Tennessee have determined that a property’s historical significance and public benefit warrant its protection. While many properties are historically significant, an easement places permanent restrictions on real property, and should therefore be used to protect only those resources which are of enduring significance.

To ensure the preservation and protection of the historical, archaeological, scenic, and open space values of the properties held under easement, the Wars Commission performs routine site visits to monitor the property. The TWC defines monitoring as the regular inspection of a property protected under the stewardship of the State of Tennessee.

The conservation easement program can accept properties with military significance related to the French and Indian War through the Civil War era and Underground Railroad sites eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places or eligible for National Landmark status.

The conservation easement application is for projects that are either:

  • new easements using funding other than the Civil War Sites Preservation Funds (CWSPF), or
  • easement donations that focus on properties significant to the wars.

The Wars Commission Easement Guidelines Document

This document has been developed in response to the recent expansion and improvement of the Tennessee Wars Commission’s conservation easement program to reflect historic preservation best practices and processes. The objective of this manuscript is to provide the public with a greater understanding of the program, information for program enrollment, and required materials, as well as to function as a resource for battlefield preservation. Please note that this document is evolving and changing as the program does. Updates will be noted on the website and the document cover page.

The Wars Commission will be working diligently to launch the updated easement program and to meet all the program’s goals, however, recognizes that it will take time and additional resources to meet all the outlined objectives. The Wars Commission also acknowledges that significant progress has been made, and will continue to strive for excellence.

View the TWC Easement Guidelines Document.

Please reference the below links for additional information on the conservation easement application and the requirements:

Project Review Request for Properties Under Easement or State-Owned Properties

All proposed projects on state-owned sites under the Wars Commission’s purview must be reviewed and approved in writing.

Proposed projects on properties under easement as required by the terms of the conservation easement must also be approved in writing. To help property owners understand the types of work that can and cannot be conducted without prior written approval pursuant to the easement, the TWC has developed a list of examples of major and minor work. Please note that this list is not all-encompassing. If there is any question if approval is required, please contact the TWC before beginning any projects. Please reference the Wars Commission Easement Document: Guideline 6, Review of Application for Work on Easement Properties for more information.

TWC staff strives to respond to review requests within thirty days of receipt unless otherwise specified by the applicable easement. Staff endeavors to issue a determination within those thirty days; however, all the necessary paperwork must be present, and there must be no other circumstances that warrant an extension or delay of that review period. Applicants must receive written approval before commencing any work.

Please submit the Project Review Request Form including Part I: Project Review Request Checklist, and the Project Review Request Letter along with supporting documentation electronically to Nina Scall.

TWC Easement Sign

Suspected Violations

An easement represents a permanent commitment and partnership to preserve, enhance, and maintain the historical, archaeological, scenic, environmental, and open space features and resources of the property between the State of Tennessee and the property owner. The Tennessee Historical and Wars Commissions take their obligation to uphold and enforce the terms of all conservation easements seriously. It is the responsibility of the TWC to ensure the historical resources and the cultural landscape are not lost through violation, deterioration, neglect, irresponsibility, poor management, or inappropriate changes to the protected resource.

If you suspect a violation, please document the issue in a brief narrative and include photographs, if safe to do so. Please submit the information to Nina Scall.

Volunteer Program

To achieve the Wars Commission’s goal of routine easement monitoring, a volunteer program has been developed. It will enlist the help of trained volunteers to perform site visits to assess the conditions of properties under easement or state-owned properties. This collaboration will help to deliver a strong and proactive easement monitoring strategy that will protect our battlefield properties and war-related historic sites, that benefit the citizens of Tennessee.

Volunteers will be enlisted on a rolling basis, and must be at least twenty-one years of age, have a valid driver’s license, and sign a liability waiver. To ensure consistency and accuracy with monitoring and reporting, volunteers will attend one workshop and shadow a TWC staff member on at least two separate easement site visits. It is recommended that volunteers have knowledge of the area, and ideally, they will have a clear understanding of the role of the site within the greater conflict. Volunteers must review pertinent documentation before the site visit, complete the required post-visit report, and meet (either in person, virtual, or via telephone) with the monitoring coordinator to discuss findings.

Position Description: Conservation Easement Monitor

Duties: The primary role of a monitor is to walk the property observing its conservation resources and values and its current conditions in relation to the provisions and restrictions outlined in the easement. The monitor records their observations using a standard form, photographing the site, and via a map.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Ability to walk long distances in varied terrain and in varied weather conditions.
  • Is comfortable navigating in the outdoors, sometimes off trail.
  • Can read maps.
  • Has the ability to take photos on their phone or tablet.
  • Ability to carry up to 25 lbs.
  • Willingness to participate in easement monitoring and the dedication to see the monitoring and reporting process through.
  • Has good oral and written communication skills.
  • Is organized with strong attention to detail.
  • Is reliable.
  • Interest in historic preservation, conservation, history, and the Civil War.
  • Has transportation.

Please fill out a Volunteer Application and return to Nina Scall!

Request for Entry to Properties Under Easement or State-Owned Properties

Coming soon!