Conservation Easements

Stream running through mixed deciduous and conifer forest with spring buds on the branches


What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and the DNR or other organization that permanently limits the land uses to protect the land’s natural resources availability for habitat, agricultural, forest, recreational, or open-space use. Conservation easements may also maintain or enhance air or water quality, or preserve the historical, architectural, archaeological, or cultural aspects of properties. Conservation easements in Minnesota are governed by Minnesota Statute Chapter 84C.

Does the DNR purchase or accept donations of conservation easements?

Yes, the DNR purchases and accepts donations of conservation easements on forests, native prairie, and trout streams. These easements protect habitat to help ensure that prairie, forest, and public recreation resources are available in the future. If you are interested in donating or selling an easement, please visit the following webpages:

  1. Forestry easements
  2. Native Prairie Bank
  3. Trout Streams


Close-up of Aphrodite Fritilarry butterfly pollinating purple Wild Bergamot flower in a Minnesota native prairie

Are conservation easements open to the public?

Some conservation easements, such as trout stream easements, aquatic management areas, and forestry easements on private industrial forest land, are open to the public. The DNR also manages easements that are not open to the public, but the public benefits from the scenic area and natural resources protected by these easements. It is important to ensure that the conservation easement is open to the public before visiting. Please respect private landowner rights by staying in the easement boundaries. Review information on trout stream fishing and landowner relations before angling.


How does the DNR use conservation easements?

The DNR administers nearly 1,200 conservation easements to protect natural and scenic lands, improve fish and wildlife habitat, and conserve the state’s natural resource lands for the benefits of current and future generations of Minnesotans. Conservation easements maintain private land ownership while also helping the DNR achieve specific conservation goals.


How does the DNR manage conservation easements?

DNR follows established industry practices in the stewardship of its conservation easement interests. Stewardship protects the conservation values of the property protected by these easements and the state's investment in the property. Elements of stewardship include:

  • creating baseline property reports to document the condition of a property at the time a conservation easement is acquired;
  • monitoring easements every one to three years to assess compliance with easement terms;
  • working closely with the owners of easement properties;
  • reporting and record-keeping;
  • if necessary, following enforcement protocols to correct violations of easement terms.


Aerial view of lakes and woodlands in Koochiching County


Get in touch

If you have questions about conservation easements, contact Whitney DeLong, Conservation Easement Data Steward.

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