what is Stewardship?

A conservation easement alone does not conserve land, but rather provides for a perpetual partnership between the land’s owner and the land trust to ensure the safeguarding of the conservation values of the land. The placement of a conservation easement on a property is just the first step down a very long path – what we call “stewardship”. The foundation of this relationship is communication and a mutual respect between parties with the understanding that stewarding land is a complex and evolving task. The primary components of easement stewardship are: monitoring and easement enforcement and defense.

Monitoring Program

As a requirement of Internal Revenue Code 170(h) AVLT, as an accredited land trust, is required to monitor each property at least annually to ensure that the restrictions in place are being adhered to and that the conservation values are maintained. 

Our monitoring program divides our service area into three regions:

(1) Aspen/Snowmass
(2) Basalt/Emma/Missouri Heights/Carbondale/Crystal Valley/Glenwood Springs
(3) West Glenwood Springs westward

[With each region being monitored by each of the following means on a three-year rotating cycle.]


This has been our traditional approach to monitoring and continues to be the backbone of our program. Utilizing mobile tablet technology, AVLT staff visits and explores conservation properties by foot or vehicle to observe and document the condition of various conservation values at the ground level. This approach is invaluable in maintaining and enhancing our relationship with landowners.


Conservation takes to the skies as staff work with experienced pilots to gain a different perspective of our protected properties. This allows us to view the condition of conservation values that may be difficult to observe from the ground. This extremely cost-efficient approach to monitoring enables us to monitor as many as a couple dozen properties in one outing. Observations are documented using a professional grade digital SLR camera.


High-resolution imagery is captured from an aircraft flying a grid at a fixed altitude. These images are geometrically corrected and pieced together to create a three-dimensional landscape. As these images are collected over time they can be precisely overlaid and compared providing the ability to identify and assess environmental conditions and change over time.

Dawn monitoring

aerial monitoring


Easement Enforcement & Defense

When a conservation easement is entrusted to AVLT various fees are charged to not only cover are costs for drafting and executing the easement but also to ensure that we have the means to forever steward and uphold the terms of the agreement. If a discrepancy is discovered during a monitoring visit it is the obligation of the land trust to further investigate the issue and determine whether or not it is consistent with the terms of the easement. If a violation is found, then it is the duty of the land trust to work with the landowner to devise a means to restore the land to an appropriate condition. AVLT has a proven track record in upholding the terms and conditions of our easements and maintaining the integrity of these documents.

Contact Info

Aspen Valley Land Trust
Dave Erickson
Stewardship Director
970-963-8440 | office

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