Have you ever wondered how we ensure permanent protection of properties with conservation easements? We do this by making visits to each property to monitor its condition. Monitoring conserved properties is a vital aspect to ensuring the protection of these lands. It allows us to see changes over time to make sure the lands are being used responsibly.
Once a conservation easement has been closed on a property, it is a symbiotic relationship between the landowner and Shasta Land Trust. The landowner is responsible for abiding by the guidelines of the easement, which are set in place to conserve the values of the land. Shasta Land Trust monitors each property annually. Every visit to a property is different from the next because we tailor each conservation easement individually to reflect the property features and landowner goals.
Before setting out on a monitoring visit, it is helpful to familiarize ourselves with the property by reviewing the conditions of the easement, previous monitoring reports, maps and baseline documents (baselines are large snapshots of a property that capture images and unique conditions that are present on the property before closing the easement). Once the preliminary research has been done, we gather any supplies needed for the monitoring trip. We always bring an iPad to take pictures and pinpoint the location of photos taken. Some properties can be monitored on foot, while others may need an off-road vehicle to get around.
Monitoring these beautiful properties is one of the best parts of our job here at the Land Trust. Recently, we spent a week out on the land to do our annual monitoring visits. To experience these properties firsthand is to clearly see the importance of long term conservation. Shasta County has some of the most breathtaking views northern California has to offer. We spotted elk, coyote, and several bird and fish species. Our objective is to keep these views pristine and the wildlife thriving.
As you can see, these annual monitoring visits are the backbone of long-term conservation for these valuable properties. Without consistent monitoring practices, we would never know if the conservation guidelines were being followed. Property monitoring is crucial to upholding the mission of Shasta Land Trust and ensures that these conserved lands are protected forever.