I want to protect my sensitive shoreline, but I need to sell my land. Does the land trust purchase land?
Northern Waters Land Trust is able to accept land donations, but typically does not purchase land from landowners to hold and manage. However, NWLT may be able to purchase lands through specific grant programs – called fee title acquisition, and then transfer give the land ownership to a county, MN DNR, or a federal agency, or another qualifying conservation organization for them to conserve and manage. Grant program dollars are limited and the process takes several years. To see if your land meets any of the various eligibility criteria, contact our office. We maintain a list of “acquisition priority prospects” for all these agencies and groups. We also stay in close contact with our conservation partners to best understand what type of land or lake shore they are most interested in to help make this connection possible.
Can my lake cabin stay if I want a conservation easement?
Yes! Northern Waters Land Trust wants you to continue to enjoy your lake time. Establishing a conservation easement protects the woods, water and wildlife around your “special place” for future generations. It’s not intended to preclude all use of your property.
If I apply to participate in your Clean Water Critical Habitat program, what happens next?
Northern Waters Land Trust may take in new applications for this program at any time. Each Outdoor Heritage Fund grant last for 3 years, and may be applied for annually, so at any one time, NWLT may have 2, 3 or even 4 grants operating to support this program. Because some landowners don’t finish the process, the need to “move up” interested land owners in the ranking process is on-going. We suggest that if you are interested in conserving your land, apply, but know that true action may not occur with your application for months, depending on when you apply. You will always be notified by phone and/or mail regarding the status of your application.
Who maintains the conservation easement?
Whatever organization signs the conservation easement assumes the monitoring responsibility for it. Historically, this action has been handled by our partner, Minnesota Land Trust, but the Northern Waters Land Trust is striving to become accredited and plans to start holding conservation easements soon.
It’s noted that a conservation easement “provides public benefit.” Does this mean the general public will have access to my land?
No, as a private land owner, you retain all private property rights to your land with a conservation easement. The conservation easement, through its legal protection, provides an intangible benefit to the land and water surrounding your property. Your act helps the “greater good” of the environment within your watershed.
Are there financial benefits to me as a landowner to have a conservation easement?
Possibly. If a part or all of the easement is donated, you may be eligible for an IRS charitable deduction on your income taxes. You could also be compensated for your easement through a grant. Every land or financial transaction has different advantages to different people – it depends on your particular financial situation. It’s best to consult your financial advisor for the best path for you.
Can any land have a conservation easement?
Technically, yes, but each land trust organization focuses their efforts on existing or restorable natural habitats that best fit within that organization’s scope or vision.
Once I have a conservation easement set up, is there anything more I have to do?
Landowners do have some on-going responsibilities. For example, since it’s your property, you’re responsible for maintenance and upkeep, for paying taxes, and for otherwise meeting the typical obligations of land ownership. Conservation easements add a few further requirements; landowners must:
- Notify the Land Trust of proposed changes to the property (including when selling or transferring)
- Allow annual visits by certified monitors
- Obtain Land Trust approvals for certain activities, depending on the easement terms
Who manages the conservation easement?
The land trust that writes up the easement typically is the enforcer of the easement. They are obligated to annually monitor and enforce the terms of each easement. However, the Land Trust does not otherwise have the right to enter or in any way use the property without the landowner’s permission.
How is the value of my conservation easement calculated?
Your land is appraised before and after the easement is established. The appraisal value of your land with the conservation easement is subtracted from the value of your land before the conservation easement. The more restrictions you have written in your CE, the more donation or compensation value you may receive.