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The Nature Conservancy in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota

The Nature Conservancy would like to correct the record in response to an article in the Hot Springs Star (Non-profits duke it out over land dispute, September, 9, 2017).

The article included information that was both unfair and inaccurate.

The Institute of Range and the American Mustang (IRAM) willingly sold a conservation easement to The Nature Conservancy in 1998 on land it owns in Fall River County and in exchange it received $230,000.

The article included a number of claims that are without basis in the law or the facts including that IRAM could lose 4,000 acres to the Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy has no interest in taking land from IRAM.

The story also incorrectly suggested that both the horse sanctuary itself and the Lakota people’s traditional Sun Dance ceremonies on the property were in jeopardy due to the conservation easement. The easement prohibits subdivision and development but allows the landowner to continue its historic use of the property, including the traditional Sun Dance ceremonies that are sacred to Native Americans.

The conservation easement does not pose a threat to the wild horse sanctuary and in fact helps ensure the land can be used for that purpose as it has for the nearly two decades since the conservation easement was established.

Conservation easements are one of the most powerful, effective tools available for the conservation of private lands. The option to place conservation easements on private land is an important private property right that comes with land ownership in the United States.

Conservation easements are individually tailored to protect targeted conservation values and to meet the landowner’s needs. The Conservancy’s easement with IRAM acknowledges and accommodates the landowner’s need to work with tourists.

Landowners place conservation easements on their property because they want to protect it beyond their lifetimes. Easements help them fulfill their vision for the future of their lands and waters.

Before IRAM filed its lawsuit against the Conservancy, it noted with pride on its website that a conservation easement “was put in place to protect this property from ever being built on.”

The Nature Conservancy is committed to working with IRAM to protect and conserve their important property under the existing conservation easement. It is unfortunate that IRAM has filed a lawsuit asking the court to release it from its obligations under the easement.

If IRAM is successful, there would be no guarantee that the property’s conservation values would be protected.

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