Experience and Expertise
Private lands are the biggest segment of land in the country. To landowners, each parcel is a home, a family legacy, or an asset for making a living, or all of these.
Intended or not, private lands are an enormous and valuable estate for conservation. Problems arise where stewardship is lacking or property rights are taken or infringed. The opportunities are in benefits to public wildlife, water, and other values. There are ways to get the good stuff through clear, voluntary agreements backstopped by protections against waste or harm.
The conservation easement is one of the best-known forms of agreement on private lands. These typically are permanent changes to a land deed that describe conservation commitments. Term contracts and cost-share projects also are options. The Natural Resource Conservation Service of the Department of Agriculture, and the Partners for Wildlife Program of the Fish and Wildlife Service offer many forms of these agreements.
More recently, private investors have begun to offer entirely privately-funded agreements from which they can earn profits as a wetland mitigation bank or species habitat bank. Landowners benefit in cash, tax deductions, or in the progress of their own conservation missions. The public benefits from effects of commitments to limit or control construction or tillage, or to promote habitat or water quality.
Watershed Results is involved in every form of conservation agreements with landowners. We were closely involved with the National Conservation Easement Database. We represent mitigation bankers, and we work every day with many conservationists who either are landowners themselves or who are face-to-face to the landowners in talks for conservation progress.