LTV works with families to help them achieve their conservation goals for their properties. Since every property is different, so is every easement, and each is a unique achievement. Each donation of a conservation easement, by a landowner, represents a permanent gift and retirement of select property rights. The landowner donates these property rights 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 landowner’s conservation goals, protecting the property’s conservation values in perpetuity. 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 on this responsibility seriously.
The most effective way for LTV to uphold this stewardship responsibility is to cultivate and maintain a partnership with each landowner. Regular communication and cooperation helps strengthen the relationship between LTV, the landowner, and the land itself. LTV Stewardship staff conduct annual 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 answer inquiries, respond to requests, and interpret easement documents for each landowner as needed.
We also provide the landowner with resources such as various agricultural cost-share programs and similar financial resources, as well as educational opportunities that might be available from LTV or other sources. Maintaining a partnership with a landowner provides mutual benefits, which helps keep the property’s conservation values protected. 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 (a land trust conservation defense insurance program).
The conservation easement itself, as a legal deed, is the most important guide for stewardship. LTV strives to help draft and accept conservation easements that are clearly written and easily understandable. 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. LTV maintains a record keeping system both in hard copy and digitally, as these documents are vital for ongoing stewardship. Each property’s stewardship file grows over time, and LTV maintains excellent records with all hard copy documentation stored securely off-site in order to sustain the integrity of each of these permanent easements.