What Is Monitoring And Why Do We
The California Rangeland Trust currently holds conservation
easements on over 187,000 acres of land throughout California.When the Rangeland Trust accepts a conservation easement, it commits
itself to perpetual stewardship of the easement land.This means the Rangeland Trust has an ongoing
obligation to regularly monitor its easements and enforce easement terms if
they are violated.
The purpose of the monitoring is to confirm that the terms
of the conservation easement agreement between the landowner and the Rangeland
Trust are being fulfilled.For example,
if the landowner agreed to construct agricultural structures only within a
certain area of the ranch, we make certain no prohibited construction is taking
place.Or, if the easement prohibits
paving unpaved roads we confirm the roads are still unpaved.
Each monitoring visit provides an opportunity to maintain
and develop a stronger relationship with the owner and build a spirit of
cooperation.Perpetuity is a very long
time.A monitoring visit reinforces the
partnership between the owner and the Rangeland Trust to uphold the terms of
the easement.While all our easement
properties are still owned by the original landowners, at some point in the
future, the ranch may be transferred to new owners.These personal visits give the landowner
names and faces to accompany the legal terms of the deed, and also provide the
landowner with ready access to someone who can answer questions about the
easement.Ultimately, our goal is to
prevent violations and foster a spirit of partnership.
During the monitoring, the Rangeland Trust monitors take
pictures from established monitoring photo points to document the condition of
the ranch.This provides a running
record of the ranch's condition over time.In addition to photos, the monitors complete a written checklist of
their observations of the ranch.The
photographs and written field notes serve as evidence of trends on the ranch,
whether positive or negative.Evidence
of a negative trend provides the Rangeland Trust with an opportunity to sit
down with the landowner to discuss the matter and hopefully avoid a costly
violation.If the matter is not amicably
resolved after discussion, then the annual monitoring documentation will
provide evidence of the violation if the matter must be resolved by litigation.
Recently, some land trusts have been criticized on a
national level for not fulfilling their functions as responsible tax-exempt
establish the Rangeland Trust as a responsible nonprofit organization.The Rangeland Trust is proud of its strong
stewardship policy of monitoring the easements it holds.