easement on the Methow River
1) What does the Methow
The primary mission of the Methow Conservancy is to inspire people to
care for the land in the Methow Valley. We do this through three programs:
a) Conservation easements
2) What is a conservation easement?
b) Community education
c) Ongoing land stewardship
A conservation easement is a voluntary, written legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation
organization (like the Methow Conservancy) that permanently protects specific conservation values such
as wildlife habitat, agricultural lands, riparian ecosystems, historic property,
scenic views, and open space. A conservation easement limits a propertys
uses in order to protect its conservation values and stays with the land
in perpetuity, transferring from owner to owner.
When people own land, they
also own many rights associated with it, such as the right
to harvest timber, build structures, excavate minerals, etc. When landowners
place a conservation easement on their land, they permanently give up
some of those rights in exchange for protecting the specific features
of the land. For example, they might give up the right to build additional
residences to protect wildlife habitat. Each conservation easement is
a unique document, tailored to each property and the financial and personal
needs of the landowner.
salmon on a redd at a conservation
easement on the Chewuch River
3) Does the Methow Conservancy
own the land on an easement?
No. A conservation easement does not change the property ownership of
a piece of land. The landowner still owns the land under the easement.
The easement simply ensures that the restricted acreage under the easement
will not be used for specified purposes (e.g., development, subdivision,
etc.). The Methow Conservancy provides trained staff to help landowners
(and future landowners) care effectively for the land under an easement
and to ensure that the provisions of the easement are being met.
4) What types of land can have easements?
We accept easements on agricultural land, forest land, riparian land,
and shrub land. Our easements range from seven acres to more than 1400
acres. We consider potential easements on an individual basis, and each
easement that we accept represents a decision by the Board of Directors
that is carefully researched and documented.
easement on the Twisp River
5) How do you ensure that
easement land is protected forever?
Easements run with the land or exist in perpetuity. Each conservation
easement is recorded on the title to the land and all future owners are
bound by the terms of the easement. The Methow Conservancy upholds the
easement, annually checking on the land with the landowner to ensure that
the easements provisions are being followed. Each conservation easement
has a succession clause that directs which qualified organization will
hold the easement if the Methow Conservancy no longer existed.
6) If I put an easement
on my land, does that take the
land off the tax rolls?
Conservation easements do not
necessarily change the County assessment of property tax. The County assessor
decides on the assessment level for each property.
7) Is the Methow Conservancy
a government organization?
No. The Methow Conservancy is a private, nonprofit organization with 501(c)3
status. We have no official connection with The Nature Conservancy or
any other national environmental group. We are locally staffed and all
of our board members own land in the Methow Valley and live here. We have
base of more than 1000 households who support our programs. We do occasionally work with
government agencies, like the Forest Service, Washington Department of
Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the County to coordinate land use plans
and to help make sure local public land management (weed control, forest
thinning, prescribed fire, recreational planning, etc.) is as effective
Conservation easement in the upper Rendezvous
8) How does the Methow Conservancy
get its funding and how is it spent?
Almost two-thirds of the Methow Conservancys operating budget comes
from direct public supportgifts from more than 1000 members. These
basic operating funds help us run our core programs. About a quarter of
our operating budget comes from public grants and about ten percent from
private foundation grants. While some of these grant awards can help us
raise significant funds to purchase conservation easements, they typically
do not cover our basic and ongoing daily costs of monitoring and providing
stewardship for that land forever and educating the public about the need
9) How do conservation easements
and the work of the Methow Conservancy benefit the Methow Valley?
easements help to ensure that vital wildlife habitat remains intact
for future generations and help to protect the beautiful scenery that
so many enjoy. Conservation easements that protect agricultural and
ranch lands also help to ensure that these historically important
ways of life may continue in this Valley. We are dedicated to the
future of the Methow Valley and deeply committed to helping maintain
the unusual qualities of our land and community.