Conservation Easements Through Farm Bill Programs

Over its 80-year history, the federal government’s Farm Bill refined soil, water and habitat conservation programs. Along the way, its strategy changed from “let’s see how many we can sign up” to a more focused “best bang for the buck” approach to conservation, funding programs to conserve fragile landscapes. This episode examines programs available from the Natural Rescources Conservation Service offering landowners monetary incentives to place qualified land under long-term or permanent conservation easements.

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Water Conservation in Northeast Colorado

When Denver physician and sportsman Kent Heyborne bought land in northeast Colorado, his intent was to leave it undeveloped as bird habitat. But, working with Ducks Unlimited along the South Platte River, he created a water-conservation project resulting in neighboring farms gaining additional irrigation credits. By putting the land under perpetual easement, he created a development-free zone spanning from one wildlife park to another, ensuring a corridor of waterfowl habitat several miles long. Plus, he earned state and federal tax credits along the way.

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Conservation Easements and Land Trusts

More than half of western Great Plains farmers are near retirement age. Many are considering conservation easements as a way of protecting the land from development and subdivision long after they’re gone. The federal government, through USDA programs, negotiate easements on land meeting conservation requirements. Other organizations, called Land Trusts, have been created specifically for contracting with landowners to protect land from future development. Learn about the functions of land trusts and what they’re able to accomplish in this episode.

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