Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District

Easement Stewardship

Once the District and the landowner have successfully worked together to negotiate and establish a conservation easement, the District continues its commitment to this collaboration and partnership in perpetuity. There are a number of ways we carry out this responsibility.

Monitoring
Permitted Use Requests
Enforcement
Amendments
Response to Inquiries

Monitoring

The District’s stewardship technicians contact landowners to arrange a monitoring visit on their property. This visit usually lasts 2-4 hours, and involves touring the property and documenting any changed conditions. Ideally, the landowner accompanies the technicians or joins them at the beginning of the visit to discuss property uses and activities as they relate to the easement. The monitoring technician then generates a report, and supplies it to the landowner, along with any photos taken and a map of photo locations.


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Permitted Use Requests

All conservation easements permit specific uses and activities. Some of these uses and activities require District approval prior to implementation. In these instances, landowners fill out a permitted use request form and submit it to the District. The District must respond within a certain time frame, as established in the easement. The District’s stewardship planners review the landowner’s request against the terms of the easement to determine whether the request is consistent with the easement.


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Enforcement

Occasionally, the District faces a situation in which the terms of the easement are breached, which requires some enforcement action. In these circumstances, the District’s stewardship coordinator or program manager contacts the landowner, and we work together to resolve the enforcement issue. We highly value our collaborative relationships with our landowners and work closely with them to ensure compliance that is essential in protecting taxpayer investment in easement purchases.


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Amendments

In very limited circumstances, the District will pursue an amendment to the conservation easement to clarify language, make a correction, or realize a benefit to the conservation values. This process involves discussions with County Counsel, requires Board of Directors approval, and follows our amendment policy as established in the Board-approved Stewardship Manual.


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Response to Inquiries

The District welcomes calls and emails from landowners, whether it be regarding what they can do on their property, or asking for assistance with a particular issue.


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