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Local

Grinnell couple donates conservation easement

Protecting water quality, native species, and wildlife habitat — all are benefits of a Grinnell couple’s decision to permanently protect their diverse 80-acre Poweshiek County property.

Larry and Gini Van Ersvelde donated a conservation easement on their 80-acre land. Conservation easements allow private landowners like the Van Ersveldes to retain ownership of the property while restricting uses that could harm the site’s natural resources. Such easements ensure that the land remains protected regardless of future changes in ownership.

“We feel strongly about protecting that property,” Larry Van Ersvelde said. “Most of it has gone relatively untouched, and we want to keep it that way forever.”

Though not open for public use, the easement provides many public benefits. The property’s natural buffers help prevent sediment run-off from entering the area’s stream, which empties into the North Fork of the English River. Much of the land around the stream is currently enrolled in the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The Van Ersveldes, along with a former partial owner, also created a wetland area which helps capture water runoff from surrounding land.

Portions of the west half of the site have been plowed only once and features a wide variety of native prairie species. Initial inventories identified over 40 native species, and an additional survey revealed even more. The east side is largely row-cropped, but the most erosive parts were recently enrolled in CRP.

The Van Ersveldes donated the conservation easement to the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (INHF), a nonprofit conservation group. INHF plans to transfer the easement’s monitoring responsibilities to the Poweshiek County Conservation Board.

The easement, however, is not Larry Van Ersvelde’s first contribution to conservation in Poweshiek County. He is currently serving his fourth term on the Poweshiek County Conservation Board, and has helped form local Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited chapters. The Van Ersveldes purchased this property in 1993, and the conservation easement is the culmination of their efforts to protect it.

INHF works with private landowners and other partners to protect Iowa’s land, water and wildlife. Since its founding in 1979, INHF has helped protect more than 120,000 acres of Iowa’s wild places. Past INHF projects in Poweshiek County include the Ever-Tru Wilderness Area and Fleming Woods Preserve.

For more information, visit www.inhf.org or call (515) 288-1846.

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