Officials of the Nature Conservancy today announced completion of a 133-acre conservation easement in Plymouth County, approximately 1 mile northeast of the Mt. Talbot State Preserve at Stone State Park.
The easement over property owned by Dr. Donald Schenk, a Sioux City radiologist, was donated to the Conservancy to prevent future subdivision or conversion of the prairie, grasslands and oak woodland habitat to other uses such as mining and dirt-bike trails.
“We’re delighted and very grateful to Dr, Schenk and his family,” said Susanne Hickey, director of conservation programs of the Iowa Chapter, “the easement protects high quality prairie and oak woodlands along a rapidly developing corridor in the Loess Hills and provides a vital link to other nearby protected areas.”
Why did Dr. Schenk put an easement on his property?
As he says: “as a generally conservative person, the concept of a conservation easement to protect some Loess Hills prairie was easy to accept. Susanne Hickey of the Conservancy first visited in the year 2000 and planted the seed. Ten years later I was ready and with the encouragement of friends and family closed the deal. We want to be good stewards of this beautiful land.”
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legally-binding agreement between a landowner and a conservation organization or agency that limits certain types of uses, such as development, while protecting the property’s ecological and open-space values. As a deed restriction, the easement stays with the property whether it is sold in the future or passed down to heirs. Conservation easements must be held by a recognized land trust or non-profit organization (such as the Conservancy) that monitors the property to ensure the terms of the easement are being upheld. Conservation easements can be donated or sold to the conservation group. Dr. Schenk’s easement will allow for grazing, seed harvest, sustainable forestry, and a small garden area as well as two home sites on the property.
The property is located in one of the 12 “Special Landscape Areas,” priority areas designated by the National Park Service in 2002.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.