USDA: Minnesota in top 5 for conservation easements

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016

By Dan Gunderson

MPR News/90.1 FM

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service says Minnesota is one of the top five states in the nation for participation in the conservation easement program.

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Easements are agreements with landowners to take poor quality farm land out of production and restore it as conservation habitat.

On Tuesday, state and federal officials marked the 1,000th easement in Minnesota at a ceremony near Moorhead, Minn.

NRCS Assistant State Conservationist Lanette Dietrich says the easements are important because they create permanent habitat including wetlands.

“They provide us migratory species habitat, wildlife habitat, they’re probably the epitome of a water quality activity we can place on agricultural land,” Dietrich said.

She says the wetlands filter water to remove sediment and nutrients that flow off of farm fields.

Landowners are paid for removing the land from from production and NRCS pays a share of the cost of restoring the land.