How It Works

Typically, landowners are fully compensated once the conservation easement has been recorded. But you may take compensation in increments, depending on your situation. We’ll work with you to find the best solution for your needs.

Preliminary site evaluation

We meet with you to evaluate your land for mitigation potential and explain the land conservation process.


Following our site evaluation, our team will develop a conceptual restoration plan. We will discuss the conceptual plan with you and explain the ecological benefits your property will experience.


After estimating your site’s mitigation potential, we’ll present a legal option agreement and conservation easement deed for review.

Project design

This is where we’ll survey, plan, and design the restoration project to meet your land management and ecological needs.


We’ll record the conservation easement and compensate you. Typically, landowners are fully compensated following the recordation of the conservation easement.


Upon receiving our regulatory approval, we begin site construction. Construction may include wetland, stream, upland rehabilitation, and/or re-establishment.

Monitoring and maintenance

Once construction is completed, our last step is restoration monitoring until regulatory sign-off of the site. Depending on the locale, monitoring typically lasts for a period of 5 to 10 years.

Longterm stewarding

Following regulatory sign-off, the conservation area will be maintained and monitored, in perpetuity, by an approved and pre-negotiated long-term steward.

Benefits of land conservation

At WLS, landowners are the critical stakeholder and a crucial component to successful ecological restoration. Without landowner participation, the mitigation industry would not flourish. As landowners ourselves, we understand your land is an important asset and often the foundation of your family history. We want to understand your long-term vision. We’ll work with you respectfully to increase your property value and protect your asset.

As we work together, you’ll be able to see firsthand the financial and ecological rewards that restoration and conservation create. Not only does restoration improve species diversity, water quality, and reduce flooding frequency, but it also turns potentially unproductive areas of your property into income generators. Furthermore, land restoration and conservation mean additional and improved recreational opportunities like hunting, fishing, and wildlife observation.

Ultimately, our goal is to provide a way for you to improve your property, generate income, and give back to the land that has been your family livelihood for so long.

Frequently Asked Questions

The best way to determine whether your property qualifies for a conservation easement is for a WLS team member to come to your property and conduct an initial evaluation. There are many factors we evaluate for property suitability, but the following parameters include the key components that contribute to ideal areas for conservation easements:

  • Historically manipulated, straightened, eroded, or channelized streams.
  • In areas where wetlands were drained or manipulated for agricultural purposes, stream, and wetland buffer vegetation were removed.
    The property is near natural habitats such as state forests and wildlife refuges.
  • Properties are adjacent to water-quality impaired streams as identified in Section 303 (d) of the Clean Water Act.
  • The property is located within areas identified as essential habitats for endangered or threatened species.

At WLS, our business model is built on compensating landowners fairly and treating them with respect. We compensate landowners for the conservation easement based on the value of the land as a mitigation site (not raw land). We can also provide in-kind farm improvements such as fencing, stream crossings, wells, waterers, and farm roads. Furthermore, we structure payments and/or revenue shares to suit the needs of each landowner.

A conservation easement is a voluntary, legal agreement between a landowner and qualified holder that permanently limits use of the land to protect conservation values.

While an easement comes with certain prohibitions (like future development, mowing, and livestock use), the property can still be used for passive recreation. Conservation easements provide substantial ecological benefits that help to improve property values by creating high quality habitat for game hunting and improved water quality for fishing and swimming. Typically, easements along stream and wetland corridors are linear and occupy a small percentage of your overall parcel.

It is true that government agents and WLS team members need periodic access to your property, but all visits are pre-coordinated and approved. Additionally, we only access your property from pre-negotiated and designated access points.

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