Conservation Easements in the Avon Hills

Next Deadline to Apply – TBA

Saint John’s University, in cooperation with the Avon Hills Initiative (AHI), the Stearns Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and the Minnesota Land Trust (MLT), is conducting a competitive bidding process to fund conservation easements on private lands within the Avon Hills. Funding is restricted to lands within the Avon Hills, including parts of Albany, Avon, Brockway, Collegeville, Farming, LeSauk, Rockville, St. Joseph, St. Wendell, and Wakefield townships. View a map of the eligible area.

We are using the MN Multi-faceted Approach to Prioritizing Land Easements (MMAPLE) which combines both the environmental benefits of the land with the landowner’s bid for payment. This method balances the environmental benefits with the economic costs of acquiring a conservation easement. Landowners individually determine the outcome by the level of their bids.

All bids are non-binding and landowners are encouraged to participate to help us gauge the interest in case additional funding is made available in the future. Landowners are not legally committed to a conservation easement by participating in the bidding process 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 the parcel, ecological features, historical or cultural features, protection of water quality, natural resource management, and more. The bid worksheet uses published data to determine your Environmental Benefit Score. Staff from Saint John’s will assist in the mapping needed to score your land.

Monetary Bid
In the second step of the process, the landowner may offer 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 & 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.

Easement Completion
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. 

About MMAPLE & Application Materials
About MMAPLE & Application Information

Our partners at the Stearns County Soil & Water Conservation District can assist with any of your questions.