The Forest Society is obligated to monitor our easements annually, but this doesn’t mean that your regional stewardship manager needs to walk the land each year. Aerial imagery is captured each spring for every conservation easement or restricted property. Your steward then reviews these images for any distinct changes from year to year, and will schedule a visit if major changes are noted. Otherwise, your steward will generally need to walk your property every 2 to 3 years.
Read more about remote monitoring for conservation in this article from Conservation Finance Network.
What happens during a monitoring visit?
Depending on your interests, you may meet with your steward before a visit and then encourage them to walk the property alone or you may join him or her for the entirety of the visit. Your steward will most likely plan to walk a mix of interior trails, high activity areas, boundaries, or any areas where there have been previous concerns. The size of your property will dictate how much area your steward can cover in a day, and he or she may need to return for a later visit.
Many landowners have questions about particular areas on their property; if you would like your steward to visit any particular area (difficult boundary, interesting wildlife activity, trail condition, etc.), please feel free to ask before or during the visit.
Boundary line maintenance can seem like a perpetual chore. However, it is an important part of protecting your property. We recommend that you walk your property and easement boundaries annually. This will help you, and your neighbors, know where the limitations of the easement are and might prevent accidental encroachments or other prohibited activities in the easement area.
You can help maintain your boundary markings with some of the following techniques:
- Walk property lines regularly to remain familiar with their location and observe potential issues with abutter activities;
- Periodically clear small brush that obscures the line or monuments;
- Repaint existing blazes and replace worn flagging along lines or corners;
- Do not blaze or paint trees which have not already been blazed by a surveyor;
- Do not cut trees of any significant size near the line unless you are absolutely certain they are on your property;
- You may need to hire a licensed surveyor or forester to help identify or blaze your boundary lines.
What are Baseline Documentation Reports?
A baseline documentation report (BDR) is a reference document that establishes the condition of the property at the time of the easement. The report includes a description of the property, its conservation values, detailed information on any structures or improvements, and any other information that may be essential to defending the easement in the future. The report is prepared prior to closing, and is signed by the original Grantor and the land agent or field staff.
Some older easements might not have a baseline report, or substantial changes to a property may require an update to the original report. In these cases, a Current Conditions Report (CCR) is used in place of a BDR. The CCR contains all of the information found in a BDR, but will also include the history of the property or any major changes that have occurred since the easement was initially conveyed.