Conservation Easement Stewardship, Oversight, and Maintenance

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. 05g
Appropriation Language

$180,000 is from the trust fund to the Board of Water and Soil Resources to enhance long-term stewardship, oversight, and maintenance of conservation easements held by the board and to update the current easement database. This effort must be done in cooperation with the Department of Natural 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
Since collection of digital easement data within the Minnesota Board of Water & Soil Resources (BWSR) first began in the late 1990's, every effort had been made to keep the database accurate and complete. However, over a decade later, and with over 5,000 easements and growing, it became prudent (particularly with the advent of more advanced technology) to reexamine, update, and enhance that database.

Attributes and boundaries for easements and conservation practices (planned land cover types based on the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide) that previously only existed in paper format were scanned and digitized, then added to a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database for the RIM Reserve easement program. The GIS database is flexible enough to implement future easement monitoring technology that can capture stewardship data such as easement condition and compliance, habitat quality, easement maintenance, and enhancement.

Prior to this undertaking, it would have been impossible to implement a modern long-term conservation easement stewardship plan. Easement boundaries only existed on paper and an outdated database placed limitation on reporting and analysis. As a result of this project, the framework is in place for implementing such a plan. A modern database is being implemented. 220,329 acres of conservation practices within 5,882 easements have been digitized into a GIS database, and a GIS-based monitoring field application has gone through pilot testing.

BWSR now has increased capabilities to target new easement projects using GIS reporting and analysis, as well as ensure the quality of past projects through easement stewardship and monitoring. This maximizes the return of each dollar spent, benefitting Minnesotans through better water quality, reduced soil erosion, and enhanced wildlife habitat.

Project Results Use and Dissemination
As a result of this project, a conservation easement database that is more streamlined has been implemented, giving BWSR staff the ability to edit and update easement boundaries and attributes, conduct geospatial reporting and analysis using GIS technology, create online delivery applications available via BWSR's website, and develop and test future easement stewardship and monitoring applications.

Conservation easement data has been made publically available as both an interactive online web map and a GIS shapefile download, both available at BWSR's web site:

Project Details