Frequently Asked Questions: Easements

Whiterock Conservancy

  • Whiterock Conservancy is a 501(c)3 non-profit land trust that balances; sustainable agriculture, conservation, recreation and education.  

  • The Conservancy is 5,500 acres located near Coon Rapids, Iowa, along seven miles of the Middle Raccoon River valley. This land is open to the public every day for recreation and exploration. The land consists of native and reconstructed prairie, savanna and other important ecosystems, row crop land, pasture and recreational land.

  • The Conservancy was founded in 2004 to receive this land as a gift from the Garst family.    

  • Whiterock Conservancy provides over 40 miles of groomed trails for public use, tent, RV, and primitive campsites, and private lodging.

  • Whiterock Conservancy has more than 15 years of experience farming row crop land with conservation practices including no-till, contour buffer strips, grassed waterways, cover crops, prairie strips and grass headlands. Whiterock relies, in part, on agricultural income to fund our mission

  • Whiterock Conservancy partners with respected academic institutions throughout Iowa on geological, ecological, and agricultural research.

  • Whiterock maintains staff and board members with expertise in sustainable agriculture and conservation.

  • Whiterock Conservancy is available to hold conservation easements on privately owned lands across Iowa.

Conservation Easements

  • A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a conservation group, in this case Whiterock Conservancy. The conservation group monitors the land use consistently into the future, to ensure compliance with the conservation goals and permitted uses expressed in the agreement.

  • The landowner retains ownership of the land, while voluntarily removing rights that could damage the land’s conservation value, like development and some land use choices which harm soil health. Each conservation easement is uniquely tailored to meet the needs of the land and the desires and conservation values of the landowner who establishes the easement.

  • The agreement is permanent – no future owner may break the terms of the agreement.    

 

  • Throughout the United States, conservation easements are a popular and long-established option for permanently protecting private lands.    

 

Whiterock’s Involvement in Soil Health Easements:

 

Whiterock Conservancy monitors use of the land to uphold the conservation goals of the easement. In the case of a soil health easement, this includes:

  • Reviewing practices implemented or maintained on the field each year, such as no-till farming, annual cover crop plantings post-harvest, maintenance of existing terraces and waterways, limited livestock loading, and construction.

  • Sampling and monitoring factors such as soil aggregate stability, soil organic matter, water infiltration rates, soil bulk density, and soil microbial measurements.

 

  • Provide guidance on the conservation values upheld by the easement as technology and farming practices continue to evolve over time.