Conservation Easements

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Acres of conservation easements held by the DNR and regularly monitored

Why Is This Important?

The DNR uses conservation easements to protect natural lands, improve fish and wildlife habitat, and conserve resources for current and future generations. Conservation easements preserve private ownership and compatible private uses of the land while helping the DNR achieve specific conservation goals. The DNR has used conservation easements for more than 30 years. Some easements protect rare natural communities or provide access to trout streams. Others protect working forests. Development of baseline property reports, monitoring of compliance with easement terms, and regular communication with landowners are essential to ensure that conservation values remain protected.

What Is DNR Doing?

The 51,000 acre Koochiching-Washington forest conservation easement protects the economic, recreational, and ecological benefits of a large working forest. It is responsible for the large 2007 increase in the conservation easement acres shown in the graph above.   Image 1 of 1 (use left/right arrows to navigate previous/next)

Click for more images

The DNR continues to acquire conservation easements on working forests, native prairie banks and trout streams.  These easements help insure that forest products and public recreation resources are available in the future. In FY 2011, the DNR completed an agency-wide conservation easement inventory and designed a stewardship plan that provides for regular monitoring of and completion of baseline property reports for all DNR conservation easements. The DNR updated computer records for each easement and developed a GIS tool that facilitates creation of baseline report maps. In FY 2012, the DNR started implementing its conservation easement stewardship plan. The agency began with monitoring and preparation of baseline property reports for existing conservation easements that were not regularly monitored in the past. The DNR has developed agency-wide protocols for easement enforcement with and now utilizes a new land records system to document and track conservation easements.

Target: Successful easement stewardship.

The policy of the DNR is to follow established industry practices in the stewardship of its conservation easement interests. The intent of easement stewardship is to protect both the conservation values of the property protected by these easements and the investment of the state in those interests. Elements of this stewardship include the creation of baseline property reports, regular compliance monitoring every three years, effective record keeping and reporting, maintaining effective working relationships with the owners of these easement properties and enforcement protocols.

The DNR completed baseline property reports for 1,098 of the 1,190 conservation easements the department administers. As funding allows, we continue to create baseline reports for the remaining 92 conservation easements. In addition, DNR staff visited 1,302 easements in the five previous years (FY15, FY16, FY17, FY18 and FY19). Successful easement stewardship requires ongoing monitoring and collaboration between DNR staff and private landowners.