Protection efforts are currently underway in central Minnesota with permanent and long-term options for landowners.

Reinvest in Minnesota conservation easements mean permanent land protection from housing development or subdivision. These areas are different from public lands in that they are still privately owned, keeping property on the tax rolls. Easements are intended to maintain forest or grassland management.

Specific water bodies and watersheds with higher concern for either drinking water or habitat preservation are the Reinvest in Minnesota targets. Current incentives for landowners to participate include a one-time 60% payment of the current county assessed land value. Most easement programs require a minimum enrollment size of 10 acres. Applications are ranked according to habitat values, shoreline length, public land adjacency and other professional criteria.

One of the specific grants available through Crow Wing and Aitkin soil and water conservation districts, funded in-kind by the Environmental and Natural Resource Trust Fund, is the Protection of North Central Lakes Grant. This grant focuses on the following minor watersheds: Round-Big Pine, Dam-Long, Round, Waukenabo-Round, Spirit-Farm Island, Minnewawa, Cedar, Rat-Flowage, Hill Lake, Camp-Smith, Borden, Ruth, Serpent, North Long-Round, Mitchell, Cullen Chain and Bay lakes. This project is set to complete approximately 10 permanent conservation easements, 12 forest management plans, and six best management practices (on Reinvest in Minnesota or public lands only).

Call Sheila Boldt at 218-828-6197 or email sheila.boldt@crowwingswcd.org for more information about this and other local easement programs. For more information about this program and many others, visit crowwingswcd.org/lccmr-easement-and-forestry-grant.