By: Becky Martinez, Conservation Director
Conservation easements are a critical part of Bayou Land Conservancy’s mission. They are the primary tool that we utilize to preserve land along streams. But what are conservation easements? Here’s a crash course in protecting land forever:
When BLC works with a landowner to place a conservation easement on their land, the landowner retains ownership while BLC holds the development rights. That means the land remains natural in perpetuity, even if it’s sold.
Conservation easements are a fantastic way to preserve lands for future generations and to protect regulated habitats and species. BLC agrees to protect the land FOREVER. We visit our preserves every year to ensure the land is healthy and work in partnership with the landowner to resolve any issues. We pride ourselves on working with our landowners to keep the land protected.
So how does a conservation easement get done? BLC has four main steps to follow:
1. Introduction: We get to know our landowners and their land, and they get to know BLC and our mission.
2. Board Approval: Our Board of Directors reviews each land project to make sure that it meets our mission and we have the tools to steward it forever.
3. Property Review and Conservation Values: BLC takes a deeper dive into the land. We gather information about the habitat, history, and management of the property. Finally, we perform a complete floral and faunal documentation of the land with a team of volunteers. We record every species that we see, so that we can document any changes over time.
4. Conservation Easement: Once we have all the information we need, we finalize the language of the conservation easement. We work with the landowner to develop a document that makes sense for their management goals. Each preserve is unique, and so is the conservation easement that protects it. Some landowners may wish to farm or ranch their land, others want to preserve unique recreational uses, and still others simply want their land preserved for its natural character. These are important conversations between BLC, the landowner, and perhaps the landowner’s family and heirs. All future uses of the land must preserve the conservation values as determined by the land trust.
We can only do this work with the support of our members and volunteers! Volunteers donate their flora/fauna expertise and help BLC visit every single preserve each year. Members provide financial support for land stewardship and preservation of new land. Sometimes members even introduce us to someone who is interested in preserving their land.
Thank you for your involvement! We couldn’t do this important work without you!