Deadline to apply - 3 p.m. on March 22, 2011
The Avon Hills Initiative (AHI) is opening a competitive bidding process to fund conservation easements on private lands within the Avon Hills. Up to $100,000 is available for this project. Funding is restricted to lands within the Avon Hills, including parts of Avon, Collegeville, Farming, St. Joseph, and St. Wendell townships.
This project is part of a partnership between the Minnesota Land Trust (MLT) and Saint John's Arboretum on behalf of the Avon Hills Initiative. Using a multi-faceted approach to prioritizing easements, this method of funding allows the landowner and MLT to balance the environmental benefits with the costs of acquiring a conservation easement.
All bids are non-binding and landowners are encouraged to participate to help us gauge the interest if additional funding could be found in the future. Landowners are not legally committed to a conservation easement by participating in this round of funding until they agree and sign the final easement documents.
The Bidding Process
Environmental Benefit Score
Each landowner will have their land scored based on a set of established environmental factors. This score takes into account the size of hte parcel, ecological features, historical or cultural features, protection of water quality, natural resource management, and more. Use the bid worksheet to determine your score.
In the second step of the process, the landowner offers a bid for the amount of compensation they would like to receive for placing their land in a conservation easement. The bid is in the format of dollars per acre (e.g. $500/acre, $1,000/acre, $1/acre, etc.).
Awarding Funding and Completing the Easement
Conservation Value Rating
The final rating of the applications is based on the ratio of the Environmental Benefits Score compared to the cost per acre. Landowners that have a high environmental score and a low cost per acre will have a higher Conservation Value Rating, thus giving them higher priority to receive compensation for their easement.
Easements will be funded in order of highest Conservation Value Rating to lowest. After the highest rated bid is funded, the bids with the next highest ratings will be funded in order until the available funds are expended. All bids accepted for easements in this round of funding will be completed and payments made by June 30, 2011.
About Conservation Easements
Conservation easements are a tool by which landowners voluntarily limit the use and development of their property in order to permanently preserve its natural features. Restrictions set out in each easement will preserve the open space, habitat, water quality, and natural resources. But the easement allows landowners to retain all their other rights such as hunting, working the forests and fields, and the ability to post their land. The restrictions are designed to permanently follow the deed, thus protecting the property in perpetuity.
Conservation easements provide a public benefit by helping to protect the high-quality natural habitats, water quality, and the scenic integrity of a local landscape. The Avon Hills has native plant communities of tamarack swamp, oak forest, and maple-basswood forest that provide nearly unaltered habitat and significant ecological value as remnants of larger historic forest complexes that are an important yet threatened natural resource to the state.
Funding for this project is provided by a grant from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).
Applications are due in a sealed envelope to the offices of Saint John's Arboretum no later than 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.
For more information or to schedule a meeting:
- Tom Kroll, 320-363-3126