Stewardship

Forecasting -  Easements do not exist in a vacuum. The success of programs, such as our Arkansas River Conservation Corridor, depend not only on what happens on individual properties, but also on whole river events such as changes to quantity and quality of water. We work in partnership with property owners to maintain conservation values as river water conditions change. We also work together with others to ensure that sufficient water quantity and quality are maintained.

Good stewardship is essential to uphold conservation easements for their intended public purposes. Values such as wildlife and wildlife habitat, healthy riparian and agricultural landscapes, open space corridors, recreational amenities, and public access are to be protected in perpetuity. To meet these goals, we  monitor, forecast, defend, and, in some cases perform proactive land and resource management in partnership with a conservation easement property owner.

Proactive Resource Management - We can’t  wait for things to take their own course. A great example of this is the spread of Tamarisk in the Lower Arkansas River corridor. This aggressive species is not native, takes large volumes of water from the river, native plants, and is officially designated as “noxious”. We will work in partnership with property owners and government agencies to help eradicate Tamarisk in a manner which is friendly to the system.

Defending - We anticipate that there will be future challenges to conservation easements, which we hold. These may take the form of future owners who may not fully appreciate the conservation values, as do current owners, pressures to extract or use resources, such as oil and gas, wind, and other alternative energy, competing public needs for water and space to develop and other challenges. We are prepared to vigorously defend all conservation easements, which we hold. An important part of our strategy is to understand potential future challenges

Monitoring - By monitoring each conservation easement at least once a year. Our primary duty is to verify no changes in conditions have occurred relative to the original baseline study that could diminish the values upon which we based the conservation easement. We have refined our monitoring procedures to include a site visit by a qualified expert familiar with the property and its baseline study. We interview property owners about any changes to landscape conditions, any events on adjacent properties ,and in the general region, which may impact property values, as well as  any planned changes  to ownership and use. Photography is a tool we use to provide a visual record of property conditions over time as part of an annual monitoring report, which contains an-ongoing property history.

On parts of our Santa Fe Trail Ranch Easement last summer and fall (2012), measures were taken to reduce wildfire spread and protect homes in the event of a wildfire. Read about what property owners did.