AFTER AN EASEMENT IS COMPLETED - STEWARDSHIP OF PROTECTED LANDS
Conservation Easement Stewardship pertains to all aspects of The Land Preservation Trusts’ (LPT) management of a conservation easement after the acquisition, including monitoring; landowner relations; recordkeeping; processing landowner notices; requests for approval and amendments; managing stewardship funds; and enforcement and defense. Finalizing a conservation easement is only the beginning of LPT’s long-term commitment to care for our preserved lands. LPT views stewardship responsibilities as a cooperative effort between LPT and easement landowners. Described below are the fundamental aspects of our stewardship program –what easement landowners can expect from LPT and how we can work together to uphold our shared commitment to land stewardship.
Regular Monitoring Visits: The foundation of the LPT stewardship responsibility is regular monitoring of every property under easement. The purpose of these visits is to ensure the terms of easements are met and provide an opportunity for regular communication between landowners and LPT.
Snapshot of our Monitoring Process
· Easement landowners receive a letter prior to the easement monitoring visit.
· Prior to the visit, the Monitor will familiarize themselves with the preserved property by reviewing easement terms, previous monitoring reports, photographs and maps of the property.
· The Monitor arrives at the Property at the designated date and time to meet with the landowner or another representative such as a property or farm manager.
The monitoring process involves a general view of the property to see if major changes have been made, new structures built, etc. Photographs are taken to record the present state of the property at the time of the visit. Important photograph documentation points include but are not limited to changes in the property conditions (eg. new construction), boundaries and required buffers. The Monitor discusses with the landowner any concerns, questions or future plans the landowner may have regarding the property. The Monitor can provide appropriate referrals and resources for additional professional expertise on land management and opportunities for enhanced conservation practices.
Upon completion of the monitoring visit, the Monitor will document the site visit in a monitoring report, which includes photographs and a photo documentation map. The report is filed at our office. Copies of the report can be sent to the landowner upon request. Copies of monitoring reports are sent to co-held agencies (e.g. Maryland Environmental Trust).
Resources for Enhanced Conservation Practices: LPT encourages landowners to use best management practices under the guidance of a Forest Management or Soil and Water Quality Conservation plan. Certain easements may require these plans. LPT can refer you to the appropriate professionals who can complete these plans and offer additional suggestions for enhanced conservation practices for your property. LPT will work with landowners and our partner agencies to identify new opportunities for the creation or restoration of wildlife habitat or to develop wildlife management plans. If your property contains areas of active agriculture, LPT can provide resources for best management practices and highlight your efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay. Please contact LPT if you are interested in learning more about these programs.
Communication: Successful long-term stewardship of preserved properties depends on regular communication between LPT and easement landowners.
· It is also important for landowners to communicate with LPT. Therefore, we ask that our landowners do their part by doing the following: Provide notice to LPT for plans such as subdivisions, reserved residence location and construction, new accessory structures, etc. Even if this is not required, a quick phone call to LPT can provide peace of mind and avoid any misunderstandings.
· Contact LPT if they plan to sell or transfer an easement property. An easement disclosure to the buyer and notice to LPT and any co-holder such as MET is required.
· Discuss ownership options with LPT – we may be able to help you locate a conservation-minded buyer for your property.