Last week was the first in a series about conservation easements (CE), which are legal agreements, decided jointly by the land owner and the land trust, that permanently restrict certain uses of properties. The purpose of a CE is to protect the “conservation values” which can be the natural land, farmland, wetlands, wildlife habitat, etc.
Here are a couple examples of local properties that have conservation easements:
In Clinton County, CATS and the owners of a 75-acre property with farmland, forests, wetlands, a stream, and one house created a conservation easement that designated 5 acres around their house as the “homestead” where additional non-residential structures could be built. No other houses are allowed on the property nor can it be subdivided. These actions mean the farmland will always be available for farming and the forest will always be wooded. A power-line now goes through the woods and no timber harvesting can take place in the forest east of the power-line. This part of the forest borders the creek so the no-logging restriction will help keep the water clean. Timber harvesting can occur in the woods west of the power-line but it must follow “best management practices.” Likewise, the farming practices must follow “sound agricultural practices” to maintain soil health and protect clean water.
In Willsboro, CATS holds a CE on 318 acres that have about 140 acres of farmland, 140 acres of forest, and 38 acres of wetlands. The CE allows only two houses—one is the existing house and its associated structures which are clustered in “Homestead One.” Another house can be built in an area designated as “Homestead Two” where it and accessory structures can be built. That’s all the houses the CE allows. The property can be subdivided in a number of specified ways and shortly after the closing, there was a subdivision when 116 acres of mostly farmland were sold to the adjoining property farm. The CE provides exceptionally strong protection to the forest. Whereas many easements allow logging that follows best management practices, this property’s owners wanted to let the forest become “old growth,” which is a condition few forests can attain. To provide for healthy wildlife populations, there is no trapping and no hunting of predators and carnivores (bears, bobcats, fishers, minks, cougars, wolves, foxes, and coyotes). For grassland breeding birds, it’s recommended that cutting hay occur after July 15 so they can have time to raise their young.
Next week we’ll look at “Working Forest Easements,” “Agricultural Easements,” and “Forever Wild Easements.”
February 27 is the “Introduction to Snowshoeing” OR “Reading the Winter Landscape” workshop followed by a chili buffet and music by local artists. Whether we have snow or not, it will still be a great time. Pok-O-MacCready instructor Zack Floss said if there isn’t enough snow to snowshoe, he will use the hike to explore how the land had been used since European settlement began by looking at various signs on the forest floor, the composition and age of tree species in the area, and other hints of human or animal activity. Meet at the Dogwood Bread Company at 3:00 p.m. The chili buffet starts about 5:00 (people not attending the CATS event are welcome) and will cost $12/person. (Click here for more information and to register for the Intro to Snowshoeing or Reading the Winter Landscape event.)
Be careful out on the trails. Some areas are slippery, so wear your cramp-ons, yaks, or nano studs.and enjoy!
- What is a Conservation Easement? (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Old-Growth Forest Network Recognizes Dickenson’s Point (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- More Work to Do at Split Rock Wildway (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Ground Fire: Split Rock Wild Forest (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- CATS Welcomes New Board Members (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)