What is a “working” easement? What is a “forever wild” easement?
Working Conservation Easements keep the land open for working use.
An Agricultural Conservation Easement protects the agricultural use of a farm, thus it prohibits conversion of productive farmland to residential and commercial uses. It stays as farmland—that’s how simple it is. Well, maybe not that simple because it will require best management practices to protect clean water, healthy soils, and wildlife habitat. It could even require “farming with the wild” that promotes greater protections of wildlife, fence-rows, and bird habitat. Many farmers already follow those practices. Agricultural easements promote farming on the land. That means jobs, especially in a place like the Champlain Valley where there is a resurgence of small, local-food based farms. (Photo credit Sara Kurak, Full & By Farm)
A Working Forest Conservation Easement protects productive timberland. It can’t be converted to residential and commercial uses. It stays as woods and has a forest management plan to promote sustainable use of the forest to keep water clean, maintain soils, encourage a diverse and healthy forest, and protect wildlife. The easement is especially helpful because it helps landowners better understand forest ecology and productivity. This way they recognize the danger to the forest of accepting what may seem like a generous offer of money for some trees, but can lead to “high-grading” when all the best trees are taken, skidders ripping up the soil and tearing bark off trees they run up against, and timber theft. A working forest conservation easement means jobs—sustainable jobs because the forest is treated properly.
A Forever Wild Conservation Easement protects biological diversity—plants, animals, natural communities, and habitat connectivity so animals and plants can move between habitats or across their ranges. A Forever Wild CE allows woodlands to become “old growth forests,” which are unusual but so necessary for our native species to thrive. To state the obvious, the land cannot be converted to residential or commercial uses and in addition, there is no timber harvesting, farming, trapping, hunting of predators and carnivores, or other consumptive uses. People can enjoy nature, drink the clean water, watch the birds, and find peace. Jobs? Not resource extraction jobs, but jobs in outdoor education, guide services, ecological research, and the result of enjoying the outdoors that makes us all more productive in what we do.
CATS Executive Director