Conservation easements are forever. With each easement, the Minnesota Land Trust accepts responsibility to protect that land and its conservation values into the future. Our Easement Stewardship program is designed to make sure that we meet that responsibility for each conservation easement in perpetuity.
Components of our Easement Stewardship Program
There are a number of specific components to the Minnesota Land Trust’s easement stewardship program. These include:
- Creating the baseline documentation report
- Easement administration
- Landowner relations
- Community relations
- Easement enforcement and defense
Each component of the program, discussed generally below, plays a critical role in making sure the Land Trust fulfills its obligations to our landowners and the lands they have placed in our care.
Voluntary Compliance vs. Legal Enforcement
The primary objective of our stewardship program is to preserve the conservation values of those lands protected by conservation easements. We work in partnership with landowners to encourage voluntary compliance with the terms of our conservation easements whenever possible.
Ensuring compliance with the terms of each easement is critical, and the Minnesota Land Trust is prepared to legally defend and enforce its easements when necessary. Legal enforcement, however, is a remedy of last resort. Our program is most successful if compliance is voluntary.
Working in Partnership
The Minnesota Land Trust recognizes that it cannot be successful without working in cooperation with the many landowners dedicated to protecting their lands through conservation easements. The Land Trust respects the commitments made by these landowners and is dedicated to working with them in a respectful and professional manner. In all of our stewardship activities, we strive to:
- Establish and maintain good relationships with our landowners
- Establish and maintain good relationships with the communities in which our easements are located
- Provide professional, timely responses and services to our landowners
Our commitment to land preservation cannot be met unless we also manage our program to track the status and condition of the lands protected by our conservation easements. Therefore, we also:
- Document the condition of lands protected by each easement at the time the easement is completed by completing a baseline documentation report
- Monitor the condition of the property over time
- Maintain accurate records regarding each conservation easement accepted by the Land Trust
The Minnesota Land Trust has created a dedicated stewardship and enforcement fund to provide a long-term, ongoing source of income to cover the costs associated with monitoring and managing our portfolio of conservation easements. The fund is also available to cover extraordinary expenses associated with managing, upholding or defending an easement should its terms or validity be at risk.
Contributions to the stewardship fund are pooled from a number of sources, including landowners, and are managed to support all of the overall needs and obligations of the Minnesota Land Trust.
The Land Trust strives to be as efficient and effective as possible in using these funds to support our ongoing stewardship activities. Contributions to the fund are always needed.