How to Protect Your Land
There are multiple ways we can assist
Tools for Conservation
As a land trust, we offer several tools to help landowners protect their land. We may be able to work with you to find a protection strategy for your property that meets your conservation goals and financial needs and that is consistent with our mission and capacity.
MRT may acquire property through land donation, voluntary sale/purchase or we may hold certain rights to a property through a voluntary conservation easement. Working with private willing landowners, the McKenzie River Trust takes on the responsibility of ensuring that the land and its conservation values will be protected forever.
Multiple ways to protect
A conservation easement is one of the best ways for landowners to protect the qualities that make their land special while continuing to own their land.
Easements protect conservation values
Habitat for fish and wildlife, clean water, productive or scenic values are what we call conservation values. A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and the McKenzie River Trust that is designed to protect the land’s conservation values.
Generally, easements limit or prohibit subdivision of a property, commercial and industrial activity, and activities that jeopardize the conservation values. In turn, the McKenzie River Trust assumes responsibility for monitoring the property on an annual basis to ensure that the easement is in compliance. Once the conservation easement has been negotiated, it becomes part of the property deed. Conservation easements are perpetual, ensuring that the intent of the landowner who granted the easement is honored, and the fish and wildlife habitat, clean water, and productive natural landscapes on the property are protected forever.
Conservation easements are tailored to each landowner’s needs, so no two easements are the same. For example, a landowner might want to forbid future subdivision or residential development while retaining the right to grow crops, graze animals or cut firewood. An easement may apply to an entire property or only a portion of the property, and need not require public access. For the McKenzie River Trust to work with a landowner, the conservation easement also needs to fit with our organizational mission and objectives.
Is a voluntary conservation easement right for you?
Here’s what you need to know:
- A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a nonprofit land trust – like the McKenzie River Trust – or a government agency that permanently limits certain uses of land in order to protect important conservation values such as water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and scenic open space. The landowner continues to own the underlying property.
- When you sell or donate a conservation easement to a land trust like MRT, you agree to give up some of the rights associated with owning land. Conservation easements can vary widely, but in all cases, future owners of the property also will be bound by the easement’s terms. The land trust is responsible for making sure the terms of the agreement are followed.
- A conservation easement allows you to continue to own and use your land and to sell it or pass it on to the next generation. By limiting the land’s development potential, the easement can lower your property’s appraised value. Consequently, a conservation easement can lower estate taxes and can make you eligible for a special property tax assessment from the state of Oregon.
- Most land trusts ask conservation easement donors to make a financial contribution to assist with the costs of monitoring and enforcing all of the land trust’s conservation easements in perpetuity.
There are many good online resources about Conservation Easements. Here are a few that help answer frequently asked questions.
Explore Land Protection Stories with McKenzie River Trust
Leaving a Legacy at Coyote Creek Meadows
When Mary Minniti and Mike Shippey bought their 47 acre farm property 17 years ago, both buildings and land were clearly diamonds in the rough… with a heavy emphasis on rough.
“This living room ceiling was low and dark. It was like being in a cave: there were no windows providing a view of the wetland,” remarks Mary during a recent visit. “We thought we would move onto the land in five years, but we were spending every weekend here, so we just dove in. And we were here within 18 months.”
At the same time, Mike had looked on the heavily impacted land with promise. “Scattered among the meadow of planted forage grasses, I found many natives, including some rare ones, like Bradshaw’s lomatium.” An accomplished landscape architect, Mike set about to create Coyote Creek Meadows, a restoration project that included two wetland mitigation sites and a larger labor of love.
In March of 2023, the Estergard family donated 85 of their original 300 acres of farmland on the North Fork of the Siuslaw River to McKenzie River Trust. The site, located a few miles upstream from the confluence with the mainstem Siuslaw River, provides important habitat for native species including Coho Salmon, lamprey, and waterfowl.
After a decade of habitat restoration and successful reconnection of the river to its historic floodplain, The Nature Conservancy has completed the transfer of the Willamette Confluence Preserve, a 1,305-acre natural area, to a local conservation organization, McKenzie River Trust.
Working in collaboration with our partners, McKenzie River Trust protected Cape Foulweather in August 2022 as an interim landowner. We’ll hold the property until it can be transferred to the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in the coming years.
Thanks to the support of our members, 47 acres are preserved for conservation on the banks of the Blue River On December 19th, we purchased
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