Wykoff couple preserving lifetime of memories

A conservation easement protects the land of Jeff and Cindy Erding.

We all have memories we want to hold onto forever, but few of us can put a whole lifetime of memories in a time capsule the way Jeff and Cindy Erding of the Wykoff area have.

The Erdings recently completed a conservation easement on their naturally-significant property with the Minnesota Land Trust, which protects their land from future development and preserves the memories they’ve made on it – forever.

“I personally hunted these hills and fished the streams with my parents as a youth, chasing squirrels, pheasants, turkeys, and deer,” says Jeff Erding. “Later as young adults, Cindy and I were able to purchase this property and raise our own children here, enjoying the property as a family while hunting, camping, hiking, and horseback riding countless enjoyable hours. Now in our retirement years, we have the satisfaction of knowing the property will remain intact and undeveloped for the enjoyment of future generations of people and the welfare of plants and wildlife that live here.’”

By protecting their land with a conservation easement, the property is still owned by the Erdings, but future development is limited. Beyond their memories, protecting the property has real benefits for the water quality and plants and animals of greater Fillmore County.

“There’s a real lack of public lands in this area, so protecting private property allows us to begin to create complexes of protected land in Fillmore,” says Nick Bancks, program manager with the Minnesota Land Trust. “This property is just north of a designated trout stream which flows into the Root River – so there are real water quality benefits for communities downstream in keeping this land in its natural state.”

The Erdings have seen the pressure that development can have on land around theirs, explored their options and decided on working with the Minnesota Land Trust to protect it.

“As lifelong area residents, we have watched with growing concern as adjoining properties have been split and numerous homes built, often to the detriment of the land and wildlife.” said Jeff. “Cindy and I are extremely grateful to the Minnesota Land Trust for their support and assistance in protecting our property from the kind of fragmentation and development that has become so common nearby.”

“As more and more landowners realize the benefits of protecting their land with a conservation easement, we’re making sure the waters and lands we all rely on will be here for future generations,” said Bancks. “By using a conservation easement, we’re also ensuring the land will stay in private hands, and that landowners will continue to pay taxes, recreate on the land, and be able to pass it on to their family in the future to enjoy as they have.”

“Protecting the water quality and critical wildlife habitat of our state depends on the generous spirit of Minnesotans like Jeff and Cindy Erding," added Kris Larson, executive director of the Minnesota Land Trust. “By taking this important step to preserve this land forever, they are ensuring that future generations have an opportunity to create the same memories on this land for years to come.”

This permanent conservation easement was made possible thanks to the members of the Minnesota Land Trust, with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature and recommended by the Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council (LSOHC).

The Minnesota Land Trust is a membership-based non-profit organization. Its mission is to protect and restore Minnesota’s most vital natural lands in order to provide wildlife habitat, clean water, outdoor experiences and scenic beauty for generations to come. The organization has completed 550 conservation projects statewide, permanently protecting over 55,000 acres of natural and scenic land and over a million feet of fragile shoreline.

A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or other qualified agency that permanently limits certain uses of land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners continue to own and enjoy the land and pay property taxes. Once created, the conservation easement is binding on all future owners of the property. More information on Minnesota Land Trust can be found at www.mnland.org.