It is no secret that critical habitat for many species around the world is being lost every day to development and we are no different here in the Platte Valley. Although it is a difficult balancing act to accommodate the needs of both our society and the wildlife we share our world with, we must continue to find ways to bridge the gap between all stakeholders invested in the habitat and the land we seek to protect. Without finding some type of common ground between private landowners and conservation organizations, all efforts to continue our mission will come to an end.
The Crane Trust believes that conservation easements can be this common ground and we have recently developed a plan to work with willing landowners to protect as much of the adjacent lands to the Crane Trust as we can through these easements. Conservation easements will allow us to further our mission of protecting critical habitat on the Platte without holding title to the land and allowing our neighbors to continue agricultural production. For us, these conservation easements are the bridge to the gap between agriculture and habitat protection and are an essential tool for accomplishing our mission.
The purpose of these easements is not to convert private land into suitable habitat, but rather create a buffer of existing habitat from residential or commercial development that would reduce the value of critical habitat currently being used by migratory birds and resident wildlife. For the landowner, the benefits can be a financial gain that can be used for improving their existing operation and protecting their agricultural land for future generations. Another benefit for landowners that sell or donate a conservation easement and are currently using agricultural practices that are beneficial for wildlife, like grazing, can also receive cost-share incentives for infrastructure improvements such as fencing or livestock watering systems that can make their operation more efficient as well. As for the Crane Trust and other conservation organizations, it is an investment in protecting all the hard work that has gone into conserving these critical habitats and the wildlife that depends on it for future generations.