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Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are a critical component of the state’s efforts to improve water quality by reducing soil erosion, phosphorus and nitrogen loading, and improving wildlife habitat and flood attenuation on private lands. Easements protect the state’s water and soil resources by permanently restoring wetlands, adjacent native grassland wildlife habitat complexes and permanent riparian buffers. In cooperation with county Soil & Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), BWSR's programs compensate landowners for granting conservation easements and establishing native vegetation habitat on economically marginal, flood-prone, environmentally sensitive or highly erodible lands.
More information can be found throughout this web site and in our Conservation Easement Fact Sheet PDF.

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Riparian Buffer Strips

BWSR has received funding through the Clean Water Fund (from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment) to establish and restore permanent conservation easements on riparian buffers adjacent to public waters, excluding wetlands, to keep water on the land in order to decrease sediment, pollutant and nutrient transport, reduce hydrologic impacts to surface waters and increase infiltration for groundwater recharge. Additionally, through an appropriation from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, buffers may be extended for wildlife habitat purposes.

Click here to go to the Buffers page.


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Grasslands Reserve

BWSR has received funding through the Outdoor Heritage Fund (from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment) to establish and restore permanent conservation easements on critical grasslands at risk as defined within the MN Prairie Conservation Plan.

Click here to go to the Grasslands page.


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Groundwater Protection

BWSR has received funding through the Clean Water Fund (from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment) for RIM Reserve easements in areas where the vulnerability of the drinking water supply management area is designated as high or very high by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Participating landowners receive a payment to permanently retire land in agricultural production, and to establish buffers of native vegetation.

Click here to go to the Groundwater Protection page.


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RIM-WRP Partnership

The RIM Reserve program has successfully partnered with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) programs that are compatible with the RIM Reserve program to create the premier private lands wetland restoration program in the nation. Partnerships with the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) have resulted in over $260 million federal dollars leveraged into the State of Minnesota via the RIM Reserve program.

Click here to go to the RIM-WRP page.


Flood Response

In response to the rains and flooding which occurred June 14-21, 2012 and the resulting federal disaster declaration of July 6, 2012 (FEMA, DR-4069), the MN Legislature, in their August 24, 2012 Special Session, appropriated $1.5M for RIM Reserve conservation easements to acquire permanent easements from landowners on damaged lands to provide flood attenuation, restore and protect soil and water resources, and to support related fish and wildlife habitat, as provided in MS Section 103F.515. The intent of the sign-up is to take perpetual RIM Reserve easements, with willing landowners, on lands either damaged by the flood events from June 2012, or will help to reduce the impacts of future flood events.

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Outside Request Easements Policy

This policy is to direct the use of the Reinvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve easement program for entities wishing to pursue RIM conservation easement initiatives with funds from sources other than available BWSR easement programs. The RIM Reserve Program was established in 1986 and provides a unique opportunity for entities, such as SWCDs, to accomplish important conservation projects on private lands. To sustain the high quality of the RIM Reserve Program, insure uses are consistent with enabling legislation and requirements, accommodate future stewardship obligations, and efficiently process easements, BWSR has developed this guidance for other organizations interested in utilizing RIM as a vehicle to secure long term protection of the state’s natural resources.

Program Documentaton:

This guidance documentation outlines the criteria and conditions that govern this conservation easement program. This guidance should be considered additive to existing RIM policy and procedure.


General Information


Click here to go to the Handbook page.


Training Materials


Click here to go to the Training page.


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Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources

520 Lafayette Road North, St. Paul, MN 55155 | (651) 296-3767 | Fax (651) 297-5615 | TTY (800) 627-3529

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