What kinds of easements are there?

Easements often are called by different names, according to what they protect. Most people are familiar with easements that protect right-of-ways or access to property across neighboring land. Easements used to preserve the façade and surroundings of historic structures or historic land are called “historic preservation easements.” Conservation easements protect habitat, surface or ground water, aesthetics, rare species, or combinations of these.

What is a conservation easement?

Adams County easement.fwA conservation easement is a legal agreement that restricts the type and amount of development, or certain management practices that may take place on a property. Each easement’s restrictions are tailored to the particular property and to the interests of the individual owner.

To understand the easement concept, think of owning land as holding a bundle of rights. A landowner may sell or give away the whole bundle, or just one or two of those rights. These may include, for example, the right to construct buildings, to subdivide the land, to restrict access, or to harvest timber. To give away certain rights while retaining others, a property owner grants an easement to an appropriate third party.

The specific rights a property owner forgoes when granting a conservation easement are spelled out in the easement document. The owner and the prospective easement holder, called a land trust, identify the rights and restrictions on use that are necessary to protect the property. What can and cannot be done to the property is defined. The owner then conveys the right to enforce those restrictions to an easement holder, such as a public agency or a land trust.

NCCT Welcomes New Board Members


Greg Dahl

Greg DahlGreg recently retired after more than 31 years from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources working in Wildlife Management. Most recently he was the Wisconsin Rapids Area Wildlife Supervisor where he was involved in the management of the Buena Vista Wildlife Area and the prairie chicken program, involved in the establishment of the Central Wisconsin Grassland Conservation Area, and oversaw the Mead/McMillan and the Sandhill/Meadow Valley work units.  Throughout his career he worked and partnered with other Department programs (forestry, fisheries, law enforcement and lands), other agencies and sportsmen groups. He is an active member of NCCT’s Stewardship and Properties Committees. His hobbies and interests include fishing, hunting, gardening (both vegetable and perennials), bird watching, hiking, camping, travel, and activities with family and friends.

 

 

Justin Isherwood

Justin IsherwoodJustin is an award-winning author and fifth-generation Portage County farmer. He farms peas, sweet corn, field corn, potatoes, and maple syrup on 1400 acres in southern Portage County. He has authored 24 books and is an active columnist in the local paper. He is a member of the Wisconsin Potato Board, board member of the United Potato Growers of Wisconsin, and has fought to get Portage County Drainage District to adapt new hydrological precepts without dredging and with habitat. Justin shares that he “was raised by woodlots, farmers who dwelt well with woods, sawmills, wood craft” and that it continues to be a part of his life. Married to Lynn for 45 years, they live in a hundred plus year farmhouse at the far end of a dirt road.

 

 

Diane Wessel

Diane WesselDiane is an AICP planner and a graduate of UWSP with a BS in Forest Management. As planning analyst for Marathon County, she is responsible for planning all aspects of community development including natural resource management, economic development, farmland preservation, landuse, hazard mitigation, stormwater management, sewer service, and intergovernmental relations.  Diane served as project manager and grant administrator for the largest multi-jurisdictional planning grant in the state.  Diane is staff to several committees of the County Board, the Wausau Area Metropolitan Planning Commission, and as a county representative to Marathon County United Way committees.  She is creator and chair of the North Central Wisconsin Stormwater Coalition since its creation in 2008, editor and contributor to Marathon County’s newsletter, graduate of Leadership Wausau, graduate of Wisconsin Women in Government, and is an active member of the American Planning Association.

 

 

Roger Zimmermann

Roger ZimmermannRoger recently retired from the Wisconsin Public Service Corporation at the Weston Power Plant, as the Weston Plant Manager. Roger has been the chair of the Central Wisconsin Airport and the Marathon County Solid Waste Board. He served on the Marathon County Board for 7 years serving on the Infrastructure Committee, Marathon County Library Board, Executive Committee, Rules Review Committee and the Human Resources Committee. He is currently serving on the Board of Adjustment, and the Public Service Commission. Roger Zimmermann has been taking photos of the native plants and animals at NCCT’s Rice Lake property for the past six months and plans to complete a one-year cycle of its flora and fauna. He has had photos published in many issues of Nature Photographer magazine and was a winner in the Nature Photographers 2012 Fall Contest. Besides Photography, Roger is the president of the Wisconsin Valley Woodturners Club and has published articles about wood turning in American Woodturner magazine.

3000 Acres – NCCT’s Legacy of Success

3000 Acres Robertson(1)During the 2012-13 fiscal year, NCCT completed easements on three properties that totaled 292 acres. The first easement to be completed was Nancy Stevenson’s easement that was signed in the last week of December. The Stevenson easement permanently protects a 40-acre bird sanctuary in the Town of Linwood, Portage County.  Nancy and her late husband purchased the property along Mill Creek in 1967.  Her 45-year record of birds using the property includes 88 nesting species among a total of 179 species.  This represents perhaps the longest and most complete record of a bird habitat in central Wisconsin.

In February of 2013, NCCT completed its first conservation easement on public land. The 35 acre Benn Conservancy, located adjacent to the Rosholt School District, was established by James E. Benn and Louise Benn Bernard to support conservation education and to provide public access to families in the Village of Rosholt. The Benn family decided to donate the property to Rosholt School District along with a conservation easement to NCCT to ensure the property would be protected in perpetuity.

In late April, NCCT and the Robertson Family Limited Partnership signed NCCT’s latest easement, on a 218-acre property located in the Town of Marion, Waushara County. The Robertson property is a working farm, with 148 acres in Managed Forest Law Program. The easement contains part of a sylvan lake, with an underdeveloped shoreline and more than 60 acres of relatively natural native forest and savanna ecosystems, providing significant habitat for wildlife and plant communities. The signing of this easement was significant as it pushed the total number of acres permanently protected by NCCT easements to well over 3,000 acres (3,139.62 acres to be exact!).
NCCT is grateful to have contributors like Nancy Stevenson, James Benn, Louise Benn Benard, and Allan and Joan Robertson, who care deeply about protecting the beautiful central Wisconsin landscape where we work, play, and live. Conservation easements help protect in perpetuity quality habitats, species diversity, watersheds, and beautiful places with inspiring histories.