Conservation Easements

What are conservation easements?

Conservation easements involve the acquisition of limited rights in land for conservation purposes. Landowners who offer the state a conservation easement receive a payment to stop cropping the land, and in turn the landowners establish conservation practices such as native grass and forbs, trees or wetland restorations. The easement is recorded on the land title with the county recorder and transfers with the land when the parcel is sold.

Who is eligible?

Any individual(s) who have owned the land for at least one year and can provide evidence of a good and marketable land title can apply to enroll eligible land.

What are the financial incentives?

Payments vary by township and land use history (cropped or non-cropped) and provide a fair value for the rights being purchased.

How long do conservation easements last?

Most easements purchased by the state are perpetual (forever).

Who controls access to the easement acres?

All access to the land is controlled by the landowner. No public access is allowed unless granted by the landowner.

What Programs are Available?

Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

CREP is a voluntary, federal-state funded natural resource conservation program that targets environmentally sensitive land. This is accomplished through permanent protection by establishing conservation practices via payments to farmers and agricultural land owners.  Here's how it works:

  • Landowners enroll in the federally-funded Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for up to 15 years.
  • CRP is administered by the USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA). It uses agricultural land for conservation benefits, rather than farming.
  • The same land is also enrolled into a state-funded perpetual conservation easement through the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program, administered by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR).
  • Private ownership continues and the land is permanently restored and enhanced for conservation benefits.
Wetland Bank and Mitigation Easements

The Wetland Banking Program can be a financially rewarding option for landowners who have wetland restoration opportunities.  In some instances Minnesota wetlands can still be drained according to state and federal law, provided they are replaced.  The most common replacement method is purchasing “credits” from other landowners who have restored wetlands that are enrolled in the Wetland Bank.  As a bank owner, your “credits” can be sold to others at a price you determine based on your needs and the market.

Past Easement Programs

Minnesota River CREP 1999-2003

This program was a combination of the state's RIM program and USDA's Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The sign-up started in 1999 and concluded in 2003. The main goal of the CREP program was to take marginal cropland adjacent to the Minnesota River and its tributaries as well as drained wetland areas out of production to reduce flooding, improve water quality, and increase wildlife habitat. Over 100,000 acres were enrolled in the Minnesota River Basin.

In Faribault County, 152 easements totaling over 3,900 acres were enrolled. 98% of the acres are enrolled under perpetual easements. 74 easements are wetland restoration projects and the remaining 78 are riparian land easements.