While the NCCP/HCP covers much of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks, other portions of the landmarks are protected by conservation easements controlled by The Nature Conservancy. A conservation easement is an agreement from the landowner to forfeit development rights or limit certain types of land use for conservation purposes. These rights are given to an outside entity, like The Nature Conservancy. In return, the landowner retains ownership of the land and can receive potential tax benefits as a result of entering into the agreement. This arrangement provides an incentive for private landowners to preserve and protect wildlands when it otherwise might be more profitable to develop the land or exploit its natural resources, and they help groups like The Nature Conservancy achieve their mission of conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends.
The Nature Conservancy currently holds easements on over 3 million acres of lands within the United States. Their efforts, along with regional conservation plans like the NCCP/HCP, allow for wildlands like the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks to be preserved in perpetuity so generations can experience and appreciate the wonders of our natural world.