A common misconception about conservation easements is that once the easement is signed and recorded, the job is complete. In fact, our job is just beginning.
The conservation easement is in fact a contract between three primary parties:
The first party is the landowner, who has given up valuable property rights to assure that his land’s open space, agriculture, or wildlife habitat is protected.
The second party is the public, who have authorized the use of public funds to buy the conservation easement or have allowed the landowner to take a tax deduction for his donation.
The third party is the land trust, who has taken on the responsibility to protect these conservation values forever.
The purpose the Stewardship Program is to ensure that the responsibilities entrusted to the Virgin River Land Preservation Association by the landowner and the public are upheld and that the conservation values of the property are protected forever. This objective is met by maintaining close contact with the current landowner, by monitoring the property on a regular basis, and by documenting the condition of the property every year.
The Virgin River Land Preservation Association is working to build a Stewardship Endowment Fund that enables us to perpetually monitor and protect the land under our care. This Fund has been established through individual project endowments or other donations earmarked specifically for the Endowment.
Protecting land by conservation easement represents a partnership in perpetuity between the landowner and Virgin River Land Preservation Association. It is a partnership premised upon the mutual goal of preserving the conservation values of the property. The time and resources invested in creating a conservation easement are rewarded through the permanent preservation and sound stewardship of the land.
Virgin River Land Preservation Association’s Stewardship Program is designed to:
- Uphold the terms of conservation easements
- Ensure that all of the conservation easements under our supervision are monitored on an annual basis
- Maintain positive relationships with landowners
- Comply with IRS requirements
- Fulfill requirements of agencies and individuals providing funding
- Manage the program in a fiscally responsible manner.
Annual monitoring also allows us to visit regularly with landowners, providing an opportunity to discuss the land, the conservation easement, and any needs, concerns, or difficulties that the landowner may have. This regular communication helps to avoid misunderstandings and keeps new landowners informed.
Virgin River Land Preservation Association strives to maintain a quality conservation easement Stewardship Program. To this end, we will continue to secure funding from both granting organizations and private individuals to further the goals of our program.