The conservation easement program is one way Ducks Unlimited (DU) partners with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to keep wetlands and grasslands intact for breeding ducks. The two common types of easements the FWS offers are wetland easements and grassland easements.
A wetland easement is a voluntary agreement with the landowner to protect the wetlands on their property. After selling the easement, the landowner cannot drain, fill, levee or burn the wetlands. However, if the wetlands dry up naturally, they can be farmed, grazed or hayed.
A grassland easement is a voluntary agreement with the landowner to protect the grasslands on their property. After selling the easement, the landowner cannot mow, hay or harvest grass seed from the grassland until after July 15 of each year. This provision is to allow grassland nesting species, such as ducks and pheasants time to fledge their young before any manipulation is done to the habitat. Grazing however is permitted anytime.
With both easement types, landowners maintain ownership of their land and control whether to allow hunting or trapping.
Easements are perpetual agreements between FWS and present and future landowners. When the land is transferred to another owner the easement contract remains in place and the new landowner is responsible for following the regulations of the easement.
DU and FWS have easement biologists who can help interested landowners. The biologists rate the wildlife value of the land and add the property to an evaluation chart. The higher the land is on the chart the more valuable it is to wildlife which improves the chances of receiving the easement faster.
The wetland easements are only offered in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR areas in Montana, North and South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. Grassland easements are targeted to large tracts of grassland with high wetland densities and native prairie or soils that are most likely to be converted to crop land.
Funding for these easements is provided by the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp or the Duck Stamp. When you purchase this stamp you are contributing to the protection of wetlands and grasslands and providing for wildlife for future generations to enjoy. Conservation in the PPR is a high priority for Duck Stamp sales and 70 percent of the revenue goes toward easements in this region. DU also matches any grants received for easements at a minimum of one to one, if not two to one in most cases.
For more information follow the link: Conservation Programs Biologists