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 "A land ethic ... reflects the existence of an ecological conscience, and this is turn reflects a conviction of individual responsibility for the health of the land. Health is the capacity of the land for self-renewal. Conservation is our effort to understand and preserve this capacity."

Aldo Leopold

Land Conservation Options

As a landowner you have several options to protect the natural features of your land that you cherish for your continued enjoyment and that of future generations. Here are several options to consider.

1. Donate or sell your private land to the Northern Waters Land Trust, state of Minnesota, local government, or other qualifying nonprofit conservation organization for the purpose of returning it to public ownership to be managed into perpetuity for wildlife and aquatic habitat protection and public use and enjoyment. If land value is donated, you may be eligible for an IRS charitable donation for the conservation value of the land. NWLT can purchase or facilitate a sale to a public entity and NWLT accepts donations of land that meet our criteria. Contact us for more information.  

2. Place a conservation easement on your property.  An easement prohibits or limits future development yet you still retain ownership and use of the land. If the land is sold, the easement will pass on to future owners to insure permanent protection of those features that are special to you. In addition, you will be providing public benefit of protected fish and wildlife habitat and water quality. 

What is a Conservation Easement?
A conservation easement is a legally binding agreement between a qualified entity (government agency or non-profit conservation organization) that allows a landowner to voluntarily limit the use and development of their land in order to permanently preserve the land's nature features. Landowners continue to hold title, pay property taxes, and use the land in any way not prohibited by the terms of the agreement. Landowners can sell or lease the land, or transfer it to their heirs, but future owners will also be bound by the terms of the agreement. This is how the land is forever protected. The entity that holds the easement inspects the land periodically to insure that the conditions of the easement are satisfied.

Each easement is unique and tailored to the specific property and the landowner's situation. There can be potential tax benefits (income, estate, or property) to landowners, depending on the circumstances and how the easement is defined. Preserving the land with a conservation easement has helped many families transfer their land to the next generation with the natural features intact.

The brochure Protecting Land Through Conservation Easements provides more detail on conservation easements.