The State of Minnesota has nearly 80,000 square miles of land and only small percentage of that land is being conserved, especially in southeastern Minnesota. But the Minnesota Land Trust is working to change that, to increase private land conservation and U.S.
Representative Tim Walz is on board. He spent the day Tuesday touring a La Crescent farm with conservationists from around the state.
With 184 acres of land to call home, the Visger property is one to be preserved.
"Our roots are pretty deep here," Ken Visger said.
He and his wife Terry have lived in their farm house off Tschumper Road for over 40 years. Now they're preserving their land through something called a conservation easement.
"It's a win-win for us. It prevents the property from being developed which we have no interest in doing, nor did we want anyone else to do," Visger said. The easement is a voluntary but permanent agreement between a landowner and the Minnesota Land Trust.
"That land owner may give the land to his or her children, or might sell it, this conservation easement stays with this land forever and it protects specific things that are on this land," Barbara LaMotte with the Minnesota Land Trust explained.
In southeastern Minnesota only about three percent of the land is publicly owned.
"If we don't do private land conservation, if we don't employ a strategy that would encompass private land conservation, then we won't be able to protect these important assets," LaMotte said.
Thursday the Visgers got show off their restoration accomplishments to Congressman Walz.
"I'm on a career to eliminate buckthorn. We've had lots of invasives that we're working on. I'm managing by mowing and burning. I have several acres of native prairie grass that I put in," Visger said.
"You're not going to get this done on privately held lands unless there are strong coalitions and partnerships that make sense to the land owner, makes sense in terms of conservation process," Walz said.
The event was chance to get conservation agencies from across the state together, to help educate private landowners of the various resources out there.
"This ensures long term protection of the land, long term security for the land owners, making sure 100 years from now this beautiful scene you're looking out upon will be this way," Walz said.
The Visgers said their land isn't just for their kids but for generations to come.
The Minnesota Land Trust has 508 different private land conservation easements across the state. The organization is one of many conservation agencies that work on these land preservation agreements. If you are interested in creating an easement on your land, contact the Minnesota Land Trust at www.mnland.org.