Minnesota's Legacy

Conservation Easement Stewardship and Enforcement Program Plan

Project Details by Fiscal Year
2009 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Fund Source
Environment & Natural Resources Trust Fund
Recipient Type
State Government
Start Date
July 2008
End Date
June 2011
Legal Citation / Subdivision
M.L. 2008, Chp. 367, Sec. 2, Subd. 05h
Appropriation Language

$520,000 is from the trust fund to the commissioner of natural resources to inventory and digitize the department's conservation easements and prepare a plan for monitoring, stewardship, and enforcement. This effort must be done in cooperation with the Board of Water and Soil Resources. This appropriation is available until June 30, 2011, at which time the project must be completed and final products delivered, unless an earlier date is specified in the work program.

2009 Fiscal Year Funding Amount
Proposed Measurable Outcome(s)

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

Measurable Outcome(s)

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

Project Overview

Overall Project Outcome and Results
The DNR needed comprehensive information about its conservation easements in a centralized database and an agency-wide plan to monitor and enforce the easements.

Project objectives were to:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive inventory of DNR's easements, classify conservation easements by type, and capture relevant data about each easement in DNR's land records system;
  2. Develop a conservation easement stewardship plan that integrates an easement monitoring computer application developed through DNR's Land Records Management Project;
  3. Recommend solutions to long-term conservation easement stewardship funding.


The inventory consisted of a review of all deed and easement records maintained by DNR's Lands and Minerals Division, capture of relevant easement data, and reconciliation of the data with records maintained by DNR's conservation easement administrators. The stewardship plan was developed after test monitoring a sample of existing conservation easements and obtaining extensive input from a working group comprised of representatives of DNR divisions that administer conservation easements.

The inventory identified 13 DNR conservation easement types and a total of 974 conservation easements covering 355,623 acres. The stewardship plan outlines monitoring methods and monitoring frequency for each conservation easement type, estimates stewardship costs and identifies options for funding. Project results are detailed in the "Conservation Easement Stewardship and Enforcement Program Plan" dated Feb. 28, 2011.

Under a work program amendment, project staff converted scans of 600 conservation easements into a format for use in the new conservation easement monitoring application, developed GIS tools that identified subdivisions and ownership of 557 trout stream easements and created shapefiles for 170 conservation easements from legal descriptions. The Aug. 15, 2011 Final Report Supplement contains examples of these work products.

The database, forms, tools, and plans developed in this project provide the foundation for the DNR to implement an agency-wide conservation easement stewardship program.

Project Results Use and Dissemination
Project results are currently being used by the DNR in several ways:

  • Conservation easement data entered into the DNR's existing land records system in the project are being used to respond to inquiries from DNR staff and the public about DNR's conservation easements.
  • A conservation easement Geographic Information Systems (GIS) layer developed by project staff and Division of Lands and Minerals GIS staff is available to all DNR ArcGIS users.
  • The DNR is beginning the process of implementing the conservation easement stewardship plan developed in the project.
  • Staff in divisions that administer conservation easements are currently using the baseline property report and monitoring forms developed in the project.
  • The DNR's land records system contractor, International Land Systems, Inc. (ILS), is using the baseline property report and monitoring forms developed in the project and input about application design provided through the project to build the conservation easement administration application in the DNR's new land records system.
  • Staff in divisions that administer conservation easements and project staff for the Conservation Easement Stewardship and Enforcement Program, Phase II will use shapefiles prepared under the Jan. 31, 2011 Work Program Amendment to create maps for baseline property reports and conservation easement monitoring.
  • The Division of Fish and Wildlife is in the process of merging its existing GIS layer, which contains trout stream easement shapefiles, with the geoprocessing tools developed in the project to identify subdivisions and current landowners. This will enable Fisheries staff statewide to access the subdivision and landowner data using ArcGIS.
  • All data entered into DNR's existing land records system in the project, as well as trout stream subdivision and landowner data and the Access database of easement terms created under the Work Program Amendment, will be migrated to and used in the new land records system currently being built by ILS.


Project results have been disseminated both within the DNR and to members of the public.

Project Publication:
Conservation Easement Stewardship and Enforcement Program Plan (PDF - 10.6 MB)

Project Details