Conservation in the Age of COVID
By: Brent Evans, Cibolo Founder and Executive Director of the Cibolo Conservancy Land Trust
Many county residents are lucky – they own ranches. And during a pandemic, there is no better place to be. They can be surrounded by family, immersed in nature, and disconnected from the anxious cities.
Parks, river crossings, and natural areas are now being visited at record rates in our area. The public appreciates natural areas more than ever.
During this age of COVID-19, many ranch owners are reconsidering their estate plan. Do they want their children and grandchildren to have the security and wonder that they now enjoy? Ranch owners can protect the heritage of land so it can stay in family hands though conservation easements. Their ranches will be legally protected, to be cherished by their family for generations to come.
For the property owners, this protection is a dream come true. Land they love will never be destroyed, subdivided, developed or quarried. A conservation easement is simply a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust that permanently limits future uses of the land, protecting its flora, fauna, ground and water. As an incentive, the owner gets a significant tax deduction and continues to own the land. The restrictions stay with the land, and future owners. This is the work of land trusts.
Many conservation easements replenish the land with management plans that enhance the conservation values of the property. “There is a difference between landowners – those who give to the land and those who take from the land,” David Langford said.
Conservation easements do something more as well. They protect family legacies—generations of memories, artifacts and stories that instruct us about our local history. A family’s bond to the land often leads to good stewardship and long-term thinking about what is good for the land.
Here in the Hill Country, the “sweet spot” of Texas, there is a lot to appreciate: the breathable air, the canopies of trees, the vistas, the night sky, the rich wildlife habitats, the river and stream corridors, the woods and the prairies, the wetlands and the bottom lands, the parks and trails and the pure water aquifers beneath us all. Here’s hoping that folks will always be able to get up into the hills and down to the rivers and that the Hill Country can remain the sweet spot it is today. Land trusts must always think in unusually long-range terms to protect the lands they have been entrusted with. Your local land trust, the Cibolo Conservancy, still meets with interested parties on their property. Keep an eye on the Cibolo Conservancy website for announcements of Ranch Walks. For more information on conservation easements, visit www.ciboloconservancy.org