owlOur mission

The Owl Creek Conservancy is a private nonprofit organization of a Board of Trustees, led by an Executive Director, dedicated to conserving natural and agricultural lands in the Knox County Area through widespread private action. We work with landowners for the public good to maintain and to improve the quality of life now and in the future by conserving farmlands, stream corridors, aquifer- and watershed-protection areas, wildlife habitats, woodlands, scenic vistas, and ecologically sensitive areas of environmental, historic, and community importance.

Who we are

Knox County is endowed with an abundance of beautiful countryside and open space. Both natural areas and working farms contribute to the county's appealing landscape, which the entire community values and enjoys. Unfortunately, encroaching development is altering the historic rural landscape of Knox County.

The Owl Creek Conservancy, a private land trust, is working to conserve woodlands, farmland, scenic open land, waterways, wildlife habitat, and other lands of natural and historic importance in and around Knox County. We recognize that our natural and agricultural heritage enriches the lives of all citizens and that the land-use choices we make today will determine the future character of our community and region.

Owl Creek was the name early settlers gave to the Kokosing River. Most of Knox County lies within the watershed of this clean and scenic river. In choosing this historic name, we acknowledge that our rural land is a precious inheritance from the past that should be managed wisely for future generations.

clean riverWhat we do and why we do it

The Conservancy works for the public good to maintain and to improve the quality of life now and in the future for all inhabitants of Knox County.

Most of the natural and working landscape of the county is privately owned land. Thus, maintaining the rural character of the community hinges on the decisions of individuals. Many land-use decisions are made in the marketplace, and these decisions often transform the landscape to more intensive uses. But other voluntary decisions by landowners can help conserve our community's natural and agricultural assets.

The Conservancy works in partnership with landowners to permanently conserve important lands from development. The main tool the Conservancy uses to accomplish this goal is a permanent land-protecting agreement called a conservation easement. The Conservancy may also accept gifts of land. Both of these options for conserving land not only benefit our community, but may bring significant tax benefits to donors as well. In addition to taking direct action to conserve land, the Conservancy works to educate the public about the advantages of land conservation, the diverse land assets of Knox County, and the benefits of wise land-use planning.


 Conservation Comparison

Here’s a comparison of how conserving Farmlands, Woodlands and other open spaces varies by

Private Interests, Private Land Trusts and Public Entities


Private Interests

All rights are held by the property or land owner

Private Land Trusts

The rights to use the land as defined in a land-protecting agreement held by a non-profit trust

Public Entities

Examples include local, state or federal preserves or parks

What is the property/ land owner participation?


The property or land owner has the sole discretion on how the land is used


The property owner helps protects the land from development through a conservation esasement non-profit trust agreement

Not Applicable

Private land may become public through donation or voluntary/involuntary purchase

Is agricultural or open space preserved?


Since the land is held privately the change in land usage is continually possible


Entering a land-protection agreeement will guarantee the perment protection of the land from future development

Yes, but with exception

Theres always the possibility of development as permitted by law

Is development possible?


As allowed by local zoning and state/federal regulations


Unless minimal changes have been agreed apon and allowed by the land-protecting agreement


Unless permitted by law and determined by park commissioners

Will there be public access to the land?


Not without permission from property/ land owner


Unless it is allowed by the land-protecting agreement


Most likely, depending on the usage of the land, ie: parks and preserves that are accessible to the general public

Are real estate taxes still paid by land owner?


Taxes are still the responsibility of the land owner


There is a possible reduction, if not already enrolled in a CAUV program (Current Agricultural Use Value), a special rate for farmland reflecting its agricultural value vs. development value


It could be a possibly, if income has been generated, ie: entrance or day use fees for parks, etc.

Are there tax benefits to the land owner?


There are no additional tax breaks for the private land owner


Donation of land-protecting agreements or land may be deductible according to IRS rules


Donation of land-protecting agreements or land may be deductible according to IRS rules

Are there benefits to the public?


Since the land is held privately the public would not have access without the land owners permission


Everyone enjoys the scenic views of the permanent conservation of farmland and green infrastructures by stopping development on a land trust easement


Parks and preserves provide multiple benefits for the public by promoting public health through physical activity and social interaction.

Is there an expense to public?


There is the possibility of infrastructure development. The public foots the bill for developing, building and constructing the area


Other than possible foregone taxes, the amount of revenue that a municipality would have received from a Qualified Development Project had a tax stabilization agreement not been in place


Possible foregone taxes, required infrastructure maintance and any annual costs of maintenance/personnel