Road Erosion Control at Bear Den

Foothills Conservancy’s stewardship staff is responsible for monitoring the land trust’s conservation easements, managing its fee-simple lands, and monitoring state-held or third-party conservation easements.

Conservation Easement Stewardship

When a landowner voluntarily protects their property with a conservation easement, they agree to land use restrictions and reserved rights related to subdivision, development, and management of their land. These terms are declared in the conservation easement, a recorded deed that accompanies the property deed. Foothills Conservancy is responsible for ensuring that the restrictions and reserved rights are being adhered to for the duration of the easement, which is forever.

The stewardship process begins before the conservation easement is legally recorded. The characteristics and condition of a property’s conservation values and natural resources are thoroughly documented in a Baseline Documentation Report. Foothills’ stewardship staff then visits each conservation easement annually to identify and document changes on the property with digital photography (sometimes digital video), GPS point locations, written descriptions, and GIS mapping. These data are compared to past monitoring reports and the Baseline Documentation Report to determine if the changes are consistent with the terms of the conservation easement.

Foothills Conservancy is proactive when it comes to stewarding our conservation easements. Through close collaboration and cooperation with our easement landowners, we can identify and remedy potential easement violations before they occur, and effectively correct areas that have been impacted outside of the mutual conservation easement terms.

Stewardship of Fee-Simple Preserve Lands

Similar to our conservation easements, the conservancy’s fee-simple preserve lands require annual monitoring, but we also pursue management activities on our lands to enhance and protect the landscape. Stewardship staff performs annual monitoring visits to document changes and identify opportunities for management activities that will improve the quality of the land and its important natural resources and conservation values.

Typical management activities on our preserve lands include:

  • erosion control measures
  • boundary marking and protection
  • invasive species treatment
  • controlled burning
  • timber stand improvement
  • road and trail maintenance
  • sustainable timber harvesting

Foothills works closely with a variety of partners on the management of its preserve lands, including NC State Parks, NC Forest Service, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services, other state and local agencies and nonprofits, and local private contractors.