We take our promise to protect Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes and sites seriously. Our Stewardship Team works closely with landowners to answer questions about their conservation easements and ensure that these agreements are followed.
Through our stewardship program, we:
- Help landowners understand how their conservation easement applies to their property
- Visit every protected property annually (typically between January and April)
- Review and approve major activity requests, such as requests to build structures, cut timber, etc.
- Take steps, when necessary, to remedy and defend any violation of a conservation easement
Our goal is to be a resource to landowners and to ensure that the conservation easement’s conditions are upheld—not to tell people how to use or manage their land.
Frequently Asked Stewardship Questions:
We encourage you to contact us any time you have questions about your conservation easement. There are multiple activities that may require our input or approval. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to contact us before making any substantial changes.
For example, you should always contact our Stewardship team before:
• Selling or transferring your conserved land
• Building any new structure
• Starting any new timber management activity
• Making any other substantial change on your land
Please contact a member of our stewardship team at (615)244-5263 or email us.
When you own land, you also own many rights associated with it. These might include rights to harvest timber, build structures, subdivide the property, mine resources, grow crops and so on (subject to zoning and other restrictions).
When you grant a conservation easement to a land trust, you permanently limit or extinguish some of these rights. Each conservation easement is unique, tailored to meet the landowner’s wishes for their land and protect the conservation values of the property.
Certain rights can be “reserved” within the conservation easement but may require permission from The Land Trust for Tennessee in order to exercise, such as construction of new structures or roads or the establishment of building envelopes.
We work to make this process as seamless as possible through our Reserved Right Request Form. Once we receive all pertinent information, we will respond to the request within 30 days, although we are typically able to respond within one week.
Download a Reserved Rights Request Form
We visit properties protected with a conservation easement every year. Our “monitoring season” is typically January through April, so you can expect a staff member or a trained stewardship volunteer to contact you during that time.
Members of The Land Trust staff or trained volunteers will walk the property, take photos and notes for our records and visit with you if you are available. The focus of the visit will be to document any changes since the last monitoring visit. It is also a great time to share any questions or concerns you may have and discuss future plans.
We encourage you to be present if possible. We always enjoy visiting with landowners, but we understand if you are not available at the time we are able to visit. We may also conduct additional visits during times of construction, to gather information in regards to a reserved right request, out of concern of a potential issue or for other reasons.
Our goal is to stay in close contact with landowners so violations are avoided. In the event an accidental or unintended violation does occur, we are legally obligated to uphold the easement. However, we always aim to maintain a positive, collaborative relationship with landowners to work towards a resolution.
We have partners across the state who may be able to help you meet your land management goals and requirements. Click here for a list of resources.
We operate our stewardship program in accordance with The Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices.
RESOURCES FOR MANAGING YOUR LAND
View a list of organizations who may be able to help you achieve your land management goals and requirements. View resources here.
RESERVED RIGHT REQUEST FORM
Interested in exercising a reserved right? Download our Reserved Right Request Form.
As you consider the soil health of your property, know we’re here to help. Not sure where to begin? We pulled together some resources to get you started. In our soil health resources packet you’ll find Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) handouts, American Farmland Trust case studies, and more to guide you on your way to implementing best practices. We also included contact information for your local NRCS Area Resource Soil Scientist, an excellent resource for advice and potential funding opportunities. Download the soil health packet.