Stewardship: Monitoring & Enforcement
Each LTV conservation easement is a unique achievement, and each easement donation by a landowner represents a permanent gift of select property rights to LTV. These property rights are given to LTV to be used in service of conservation, meant specifically and especially for public benefit. LTV holds these “conservation rights” to these unique properties in trust, with a duty to uphold and maintain each property’s conservation values. These are values such as scenic open space, historic landscapes and structures, water resources, prime agricultural soils, forest habitat, and endangered species. LTV serves as the permanent steward for these values, and we take this role very seriously.
The most effective way for LTV to uphold this stewardship responsibility is to cultivate and maintain partnerships with the landowners of these eased properties. Regular communication and cooperation help strengthen the relationship between LTV, the landowner, and the land itself. LTV Stewardship staff conduct regular property visits and work with landowners to make sure new land uses or various other changes to the property do not conflict with the protected conservation values. We field inquiries, respond to requests, and interpret easement provisions. We also direct landowners to various agricultural cost-share programs and similar financial resources, as well as educational opportunities that might be available from LTV or other sources. Maintenance of positive partnerships with landowners provides mutual benefit, which additionally helps prevent compliance issues and any possible impairment of conservation values. LTV also maintains a healthy Stewardship Fund, which helps support the costs of staff work, legal counsel as necessary, and the cost of membership with Terrafirma (our conservation defense insurance program).
The conservation easement itself, as a legal deed, is the most important guide for stewardship. LTV strives to draft, negotiate and accept conservation easements that are clearly written, easily understandable, and readily enforceable. Other documentation, such as baseline assessments, monitoring reports, property photography, and landowner correspondence are also essential, as they form the context and historical record for each easement. Stewardship staff keep close track of these documents, which are vital for ongoing stewardship. Each property’s stewardship file grows over time, and LTV maintains excellent records with all documentation stored securely off-site in order to sustain the integrity of each of these permanent easements.