Here at ESLT a key part of our Stewardship Program, annual easement monitoring, is in full swing as we engage in visits to each of the properties where we hold conservation easements. When we accept a new easement, we also take on the responsibility to monitor that property annually in perpetuity, a commitment that is taken seriously by our organization and other Accredited Land Trusts. It is one of my favorite times of the work year since it allows me to get out on the ground and visit the properties that we have all worked so hard to preserve. I also really enjoy the opportunity to connect with the landowners about their unique properties to discuss plans for the next year, management considerations, interesting wildlife sightings, etc. I am always impressed by the intimate knowledge of the property that each landowner possesses whether it is a secret game trail, archaeological site, or the specific agricultural practices adapted to a site based on generations of experience.
Land conservation projects on private lands are really based on the important partnership between the private landowner and the easement holder (ESLT). We believe that the landowner knows best when it comes to managing their property and it is our responsibility to maintain regular communication with landowners, and visit at least once annually to ensure that activities on each property are consistent with the terms of the conservation easement document. Each property is different so no two easements are the same, monitoring is our opportunity to visit the property and ensure that the goals of the conservation project are being met — whether preserving wildlife habitat, prime agricultural land, or even scenic views from a public road.