Conservation Easement Stewardship and Enforcement Program - Phase II

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$250,000
2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$250,000
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Recipient
MN DNR
Recipient Type
State Government
Status
Completed
Start Date
July 2011
End Date
June 2014
Activity Type
Assessment/Evaluation
Digitization/Online Information Access
Education/Outreach/Engagement
Inventory
Monitoring
Planning
Technical Assistance
Counties Affected
Statewide
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Chp. 2, Art.3, Sec. 2, Subd. 04m
Appropriation Language

$250,000 the first year and $250,000 the second year are from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to accelerate the implementation of the Phase I Conservation Easement Stewardship Plan being developed with an appropriation from Laws 2008, chapter 367, section 2, subdivision 5, paragraph (h).

2012 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$250,000
Direct expenses
$250,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
3.94
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2011, First Special Session, Chp. 2, Art.3, Sec. 2, Subd. 04m
Appropriation Language

$250,000 the first year and $250,000 the second year are from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to accelerate the implementation of the Phase I Conservation Easement Stewardship Plan being developed with an appropriation from Laws 2008, chapter 367, section 2, subdivision 5, paragraph (h).

2013 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
$250,000
Direct expenses
$250,000
Number of full time equivalents funded
3.94
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Measurable Outcome(s)

Click on "Final Report" under "Project Details".

Project Overview

PROJECT OVERVIEW
The purchase of conservation easements - restrictions on land use that protect natural features while keeping land in private ownership - has proven to be an effective means to protect land at a far lower initial cost than full state ownership. However, once an easement is purchased there are ongoing stewardship, monitoring, and enforcement responsibilities necessary to ensure the terms of the agreement between the easement holder and the landowner are met. An earlier effort funded by the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund in 2008 allowed the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to develop a central inventory and management system of the conservation easements held by the DNR, along with a plan for how the DNR's conservation easements would be administered into the future. This appropriation is allowing the DNR to continue and accelerate the implementation of the previously developed plan.

OVERALL PROJECT OUTCOME AND RESULTS
The Conservation Easement Stewardship and Enforcement Program Plan (Phase I) project inventoried DNR-held conservation easements, developed tools to identify fee owners of those easements and developed a prototype application to monitor those easements. The Phase II project intent was to expand on the foundation laid during Phase I. Project goals were to:

  • Monitor, collect baseline data, and create baseline reports for 180 conservation easements;
  • Enhance a set of tools to be utilized to perform stewardship activities that leverage the new DNR land records system;
  • Develop a training program and to present it to groups within DNR that administer the easements;
  • Develop enforcement protocols;
  • Identify all fee owners and to develop a process for updating fee ownership information.

Project outcomes and results included:

  • Monitoring and collecting baseline data on 378 easements with 1,171 landowners;
  • Preparation of 237 baseline reports;
  • Development and enhancement of computer applications that support conservation easement stewardship by storing site visit data and managing approval workflows;
  • Development of training program materials, including a manual with comprehensive instructions about using computer tools developed in Phase II to perform stewardship activities;
  • Conducting training sessions at 13 DNR locations;
  • Development of DNR Operational Order #128, which details the elements of effective conservation easement stewardship, including enforcement protocols and how they are to be implemented in the DNR.

The Phase I project provided the strategic direction of what a stewardship program should include. Phase II went on to monitor and create baseline reports for the above 237 easements and in so doing, provided the DNR with a proven set of tools and a field-tested stewardship process that will provide consistent guidance to all DNR divisions that administer conservation easements and preserve the conservation value of the lands they protect for the citizens of the state of Minnesota.

PROJECT RESULTS USE AND DISSEMINATION
At present the information derived from this project will be used for decision making concerning potential future investigation into establishing of viewing practices outlined in the project report. This project was presented to the stakeholder Drainage Work Group (the instigator of the project) once to update the Work Group on its progress, and a second time to make the Work Group aware of the recommendations. No action has been taken by the Drainage Work Group in regard to the recommendations coming from this project.

Project Details
Project Manager
First Name
Don
Last Name
Kilberg
Organization Name
MN DNR
Street Address
500 Lafayette Rd
City
St Paul
State
MN
Zip Code
55155
Phone
(651) 259-5962
Email
donald.kilberg@state.mn.us