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Conservation Easements

 

Conservation easements provide a practical, legally effective means for a private landowner to protect the significant features of a property, or a portion of a property, while retaining private ownership. By defining and removing particular rights from the ownership of a parcel of land, the conservation easement creates permanent safeguards against uses of the land that could damage or destroy its ecological, scenic, recreational, or resource values. Each conservation easement is written specifically to address the needs and desires of the owner, the natural characteristics of the land, and the conservation objectives of the owner. The holder of a conservation easement agrees to protect the land’s specified conservation values in perpetuity.

Land subject to a conservation easement is still privately owned and managed. All rights of ownership which have not been specifically transferred by the conservation easement remain with the current owner. For example, a landowner may restrict or limit the rights to develop a property for commercial, industrial, or multi-residential purposes while retaining rights to use the land for grazing, farming, harvesting of timber, recreation, or for residences for the owner's family.

 

Drews Valley Ranch – Lake County, OR


Drew Valley RanceIn 2004 the Oregon Rangeland Trust purchased a conservation easement on the Drew’s Valley Ranch in Lake County, Oregon. Purchase of the easement was accomplished through the cooperation of The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Trust for Public Land and was funded through the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Natural Resource Conservation Service Farm and Ranchland Protection Program and a donation from the landowners, Jack and Bev Sparrowk.


Drew Valley Ranch 2 The conservation easement will be held and monitored by the Oregon RangelandTrust and allows the Sparrowk’s and any future owners of the ranch to continue ranching on the 11,400 acres that comprise the property.  The easement ensures that the ranch will continue as a working landscape, providing wildlife habitat and open space as well as a cattle operation and will not be developed now or in the future. 

 

Maxwell Ranch – Phase 1 - Lake County, OR

 

Drew Valley RanceIn 2009 Oregon Rangeland Trust, working with Ducks Unlimited, utilizing funding provided by North America Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) secured an easement on the Maxwell Ranch that protects riparian habitat on 400 acres. This easement ensures that over 2.2 miles of Cox and Bauers Creeks will be protected and restored while remaining a working landscape.


Drew Valley Ranch 2 It is the desire of the landowner and ORT that an easement be placed on the remaining 3,200 acres of the Maxwell Ranch. ORT is currently working with the landowner, riparian and rangeland management experts, and potential funders to make this a reality. This unique property hosts meadows, with over nine miles of creeks, timber, uplands, and habitat for mule deer, upland birds, and in stream species including redband trout. An easement on this property will insure the non-development of the parcel and protection of the aforementioned habitat. 

 

 

Wallowa Valley Irrigation Ditch Easement – Joseph, OR

 

In 2008, the Oregon Rangeland Trust was approached by the Wallowa County Cattlemen’s Association regarding a potentially serious threat to the delivery of irrigation water for the Wallowa Valley. A parcel of land which both the Silver Lake Ditch and the Old Farmers Ditch cross was being sold as a Park and there was no recorded easement in place insuring the continuation of a right of way. Working with the ranchers and farmers of the Wallowa Valley, ORT successfully negotiated for the transfer of an easement for both ditches. In turn ORT leased the easement to the respective ditch companies insuring that approximately 9,000 acres of the Wallowa Valley continue to have their irrigation water delivery source available. In 2012 the easement was successfully transferred to the Silver Lake Ditch and the Old Farmers Ditch Companies insuring that the water supply for 9,000 acres in the Wallowa Valley would be secure.

 

McKenzie Family, LLC – Yelm, WA


In 2013, the Northwest Rangeland Trust (NWRT) closed on a conservation easement on 142 acres of agricultural land in Thurston County. The property is part of the McKenzie Family, LLC Ranch near the town of Yelm. WA. The purchase of the easement was funded by Thurston County Conservation Futures Funds, a Thurston County Program overseen by the Thurston County Commissioners, and the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) a federal program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


The conservation easement will ensure that this privately owned agricultural land, currently being used as a cattle ranch, will remain as agricultural property in perpetuity. The property is highly desirable for residential development and has repeatedly faced the threat of development. In addition to retiring the development rights on 142 acres of the most desirable development sites of the 205 acre parcel, the conservation easement provides for a management plan that will ensure best practices are implemented in the operation of the ranch. NWRT will monitor the property annually to ensure the terms and conditions of the easement are adhered to. Alan McKenzie, the Managing Partner of McKenzie Family LLC, stated, "With this easement in place, I feel as though I have come full circle. My Great Grandparents homesteaded here in the 1870's and I am sure they are smiling down upon me, now that I have preserved their dream forever."


The McKenzie Project was the first easement purchased in the State of Washington by the Oregon Rangeland Trust (ORT) doing business as Northwest Rangeland Trust.



Widow’s Creek Ranch - Grant County, OR


Widows Creek img1In 2005 Jim Dovenberg generously donated a conservation easement (CE) on the 9,797 acre Widow’s Creek Ranch in Grant County, Oregon, to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. At the request of Mr. Dovenberg, the Oregon Ranchland Trust facilitated a transfer of the easement to ORT in 2014. Mr. Dovenberg stated, “I created the easement to assure that the ranch and all the conservation work that has been put into it will endure and perpetuate.” Regarding the transfer Mr. Dovenberg noted, “I transfer the easement to Oregon Rangeland Trust because I feel that ORT will better understand and fulfill my intention of assuring the ranch will always be run as a cattle ranch.”



Widows Creek img2 Jim has owned this ranch since 1987. The ranch is managed for timber and cattle production, and Jim has done a tremendous amount of land improvement work during his ownership. This property is adjacent to the Phillip Schneider Wildlife Area and Aldrich Mountain Roadless Area managed by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) respectively. The main stem of the John Day River runs the full length of the northern boundary of the ranch.


The transfer of this easement was made possible by Jim Dovenberg, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the Bill Healy Foundation.



 

Mahan Dairy Farm, Rainer, WA


In 2015, the Northwest Rangeland Trust (NWRT) closed on a conservation easement on 300 acres of agricultural land in Thurston County. The property is part of the Mahan Dairy Farm near the town of Rainer, WA. The purchase of the easement was funded by Thurston County Conservation Futures Funds, a Thurston County Program overseen by the Thurston County Commissioners, and the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) a federal program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).


This easement protects one of the largest intact working prairie landscapes South and West of Rainier, Washington. The easement will ensure that this privately owned agricultural land, currently being used as a cattle ranch, will remain as agricultural property in perpetuity. One of the largest farms left in Ruth Prairie South and West of Rainier is preserved for generations for agricultural production and wildlife habitat. The property is highly desirable for residential development and has repeatedly faced the threat of development. In addition to retiring the development rights on 300 acres of the most desirable development sites of the 350 acre parcel, the conservation easement provides for a management plan that will ensure best practices are implemented in the operation of the ranch.


NWRT will monitor the property annually to ensure the terms and conditions of the easement are adhered to.