Monitoring Conservation Easements

February 2, 2015

By Daniel Barringer, Preserve Manager

This is the time of year when we get out to monitor the private lands that landowners have placed under conservation easement with us. This is a legal agreement that limits the development potential of the land; usually there are some tax benefits on the development value given up and the land may be assessed at a lower property tax rate. Each easement is unique and custom-written to meet the needs of the landowner and to best protect the natural resources of the land.

Then once a year we walk the land to make sure that there are no violations to the terms of the conservation easement. It’s rough work getting paid to walk in the woods, but it’s not all fun and games. There is also paperwork to do, and photographs need to be mapped for the location where they were taken. My favorite part is meeting the landowners, the discussions over the kitchen table about the land, what wildlife they’ve seen, what they’re doing with the land, and learning about their conservation ethic.


Here’s a beautiful property I have the privilege to monitor. See that far ridge with snow on top? That’s where I’m going. Everything between is protected forest.

Tim Burris has written blog posts here,  here and here about winter clothing in preparation for long days outdoors. For this one I opted for light hiking boots despite the snow so that I could keep going fast over rocky terrain. I wore gaiters to keep the snow off of my lower pants and out of my boots, but not the rain pants I might usually wear over my clothes to stay dry—there are too many thorns to rip them here.

Of course I wore no cotton, I knew I’d be sweating when I reached the top of the ridge and needed to stay dry to stay warm. I dressed lightly and kept moving except to take pictures of the beautiful woods.