Prime Actual Property

Prime Actual Property

By Jennifer Boudart

On condition that a lot land in america is privately owned, working with conservation-minded landowners to protect the worth of their property for waterfowl and different wildlife has change into more and more vital to Geese Limitless’s mission. In actual fact, DU is constructing on a powerful observe report in land safety due to its Conservation Lands Program, which has been in place for greater than 30 years. By this program, DU works with keen landowners to pursue mutually helpful land-protection choices, together with deliberate items, conservation easements, and the donation or sale of land. This system has enabled DU to safe high-priority wildlife habitat, safeguard rural landscapes from growth, develop public lands in cooperation with state and federal companions, and generate extra funds for its conservation work.

Most of DU’s protected lands fall below the auspices of its nonprofit land-holding subsidiary, Wetlands America Belief (WAT). Established in 1985, WAT supplies specialised monetary and philanthropic assist to DU and has fiduciary duty for its endowment and land holdings. The third-largest land belief in North America, WAT maintains a portfolio of holdings that features a mixture of conservation easements and parcels bought with the intent to in the end promote or switch them to different conservation pursuits.

At present, WAT holds 590 conservation easements on practically 500,000 acres. A conservation easement completely protects land whereas enabling the landowner to retain non-public possession. Landowners voluntarily conform to abide by sure restrictions that protect invaluable habitat and different pure assets. These restrictions are distinctive to every property and should vary from prohibiting wetland drainage to limiting street building. Landowners can proceed to earn earnings from their land and protect its worth for future generations.

Mallard Relaxation is a good instance of how a conservation easement may help landowners create a long-lasting legacy. The Rozier household of Greenwood, Mississippi, bought this property in 2019. As a result of they owned a neighboring property, the Roziers had been effectively conscious of Mallard Relaxation’s worth for duck looking. For years, that they had heard about how Billy Dunavant—a legendary DU supporter and WAT emeritus board member—had maintained Mallard Relaxation as a premier duck-hunting property for greater than 4 a long time.

“Our property wouldn’t get geese till Mallard Relaxation stuffed up, and a few would lastly circulation over to us,” Craig Rozier recollects. He jokes that the state of affairs was very similar to clients in search of out much less common eating places after the perfect one had stuffed up. “We stored a watch on Mallard Relaxation,” he continues, “and when it went in the marketplace, we had been blessed to have the ability to make a transfer on it.”

Prime Actual Property

Craig, his brother, Michael Jr., and their dad, Mike Sr., all have a ardour for waterfowl looking and are dedicated to creating Mallard Relaxation as invaluable to wildlife because it was in Dunavant’s day. The household owns a building enterprise and has tackled work annually to enhance entry on the property, set up water-control buildings, and assemble or rebuild duck blinds. They farm 1,200 acres and handle about 400 acres for wildlife habitat. Craig says these enhancements will not be solely making the looking higher every season, they’re additionally making higher habitat for wintering waterfowl.

“We’re giving geese a spot to relaxation and feed and pair up, and which means extra geese to return north in springtime to breed,” Craig says.

The Rozier brothers are passing on their waterfowl looking custom to their very own kids. To protect Mallard Relaxation for generations to return, they positioned a DU conservation easement on the property in 2021. “It’s one thing I like to recommend for folks to protect the legacy of their land,” Craig says. “It’s going to by no means be developed into one thing that it shouldn’t be, regardless of who’s in management.”

The Revolving Land Acquisition Program (RLAP) is one other highly effective device in DU’s land-protection toolbox. In instances the place a landowner just isn’t occupied with a conservation easement however is keen to promote the land to DU, this program makes funds out there by means of WAT to accumulate properties that comprise invaluable waterfowl habitat. As soon as DU buys a property, it completes any required habitat restoration work and locations the property below a conservation easement. Landowners can even make items of actual property to DU.

DU doesn’t typically maintain title to actual property over the long run; as a rule, lands acquired by means of RLAP are in the end offered to a different conservation purchaser. If the purchaser is a state or federal company, the property often turns into a part of a public lands system that’s open for looking and different leisure actions. DU can even promote to non-public landowners, comparable to ranchers, who can successfully handle protected wetland and grassland habitats whereas utilizing the land to lift cattle.

At occasions, DU acquires land on behalf of a state or federal company associate. When an company can not assemble funds rapidly sufficient to buy a desired property, WAT can step in, buy the property, and maintain it for that associate till funds are allotted and possession may be transferred. Some of these acquisitions have gotten more and more frequent. In DU’s Southern Area, for instance, a property that DU bought in 2021 was not too long ago transferred to the South Carolina Division of Pure Sources (SCDNR). The 1,005-acre tract, often called River Oaks, is positioned alongside the Waccamaw River in Horry County and accommodates a wide range of habitats, together with forested wetlands, blackwater streams, and combined pine-hardwood forests.

Below SCDNR administration, River Oaks can be added to the Waccamaw River Heritage Protect and Wildlife Administration Space. It’s going to present a wide range of advantages, together with habitat connectivity alongside the river; entry to leisure actions comparable to looking, fishing, and paddling; and much-needed flood mitigation.


WAT presently holds 144 parcels—encompassing roughly 33,000 acres—which are in varied levels of restoration or safety by means of RLAP. Thus far, greater than 100,000 acres have been bought. Proceeds from property gross sales return right into a Habitat Revolving Fund for use for future acquisitions. This fund additionally receives contributions from main donors and different funding companions who work with WAT.

WAT’s fundraising power is important to increasing DU’s capability for land safety, as much more alternatives to buy land exist than DU presently has the capital to accumulate. WAT’s group of trustees is able to meet the problem, says WAT Vice Chairman Doug Oberhelman. “WAT is mostly a very dedicated group of people who not solely take care of the belief lands of DU but in addition elevate important funds wanted to protect large habitats,” Oberhelman observes. “And that’s actually what WAT can be good at sooner or later.”

Key to WAT’s fundraising success is its broader give attention to ecosystem companies that wetlands present, comparable to defending water high quality and mitigating impacts of local weather change. Many companies now have environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives that focus partially on making investments in efforts to deal with environmental points. “We can provide ESG initiatives a purer approach to take a look at investing in water, wetlands, conservation, and habitat,” Oberhelman explains. “WAT is apolitical and is completely devoted to wetlands and water. That’s all we actually do, and it’s one thing everybody can agree with. And since so many different species of birds and different animals use the identical nesting and resting areas that waterfowl do, investing in wetlands and water is an enormous win for everyone.”