Stewarding Protected Lands
Acquiring property and conservation easements is just the start of Tar River Land Conservancy’s conservation work. With each conservation easement transaction that is completed, we accept the responsibility to monitor the property annually to ensure that the property’s special natural features remain intact. When Tar River Land Conservancy receives a gift of land or buys a tract to preserve it, we become the managers and caretakers of the land. Collectively, we refer to this work as stewardship.
Stewardship of Conservation Easements
Tar River Land Conservancy (TRLC) must ensure that the terms of each conservation easement are honored by current and future owners in perpetuity. To live up to this responsibility, a TRLC staff member or volunteer visits each conservation easement property at least once a year. The visits include an extensive walk around the property to document any changes to the land that have occurred since the previous year’s visit. If the landowner plans any activities that could affect the land over the forthcoming year, a TRLC staff member will discuss the plans with the landowner to help ensure that the activities or changes conform to the uses allowed in the conservation easement. Following the field visit, the TRLC steward prepares a monitoring report that the landowner reviews and signs. Many landowners join the TRLC staff member or volunteer during the annual monitoring walk on the land.
Owners of conservation easement properties are encouraged to contact TRLC if they have any questions about their easement terms and conditions. Since TRLC’s conservation easements remain with the land permanently, landowners who plan to sell their property or transfer ownership to another family member are urged to notify TRLC in advance. TRLC staff will reach out to the new owner of an easement property to build a new relationship.
Stewardship of TRLC-Owned Land
TRLC is responsible for monitoring and managing any lands it acquires outright. Once ownership of a property is transferred to TRLC, our staff and partners gather extensive information about important natural and cultural resources found on the land. We develop a management plan to outline goals and objectives to ensure that critical resources are protected and enhanced over time. A TRLC staff member or volunteer visits each property at least once a year to monitor conditions and to walk property boundaries. We periodically contact neighboring landowners to keep them informed of any stewardship projects. Most of the land owned outright by TRLC lacks trails and is not easily accessed from public roads. As a result, visits to properties owned by TRLC are only by guided tours.
Funding Stewardship Activities
TRLC maintains a Stewardship Endowment to help fund its annual stewardship work. With the acceptance of each new conservation property or easement, TRLC deposits funds into its endowment. Earnings from the endowment help cover our costs to monitor and manage these lands.
The TRLC Board of Directors also maintains a Conservation Lands Defense Fund to cover costs of defending its conservation easements. The Defense Fund also enables TRLC to defend against condemnation actions, trespass, encroachment, and other activities by third parties that threatened the conservation values of lands owned outright by TRLC. With each new conservation easement or property acquired, TRLC must raise the necessary cash (or establish a plan to secure the cash) to grow our Defense Fund.