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Our View: Gratitude for conservation easement

Updated: July 22, 2013 7:13PM



When Lisbet Temple’s time is past, her 160-acre farm near Beecher will fall to the citizen heirs of Will County.

Her Tempest Farm is modest but elegant, as is Lisbet Temple.

And the binding nature conservancy easement that will protect her land for all time is part of a long, good-hearted tradition in American property ownership to which Temple now becomes a partner.

Her acreage — when the time comes, and we hope it’s a long time off — will become one of the 95,500 conservation easements and 18 million acres protected in this way.

Her onetime dairy operation will constitute a new extension to Will County’s 22,000 preserved acres. There are tax and public policy benefits but mostly this is an affair of the heart.

The Temple farm has never been traditional. Lisbet and her late husband Arvid were a Renaissance twosome — he a dressage master and surgeon, she an English literature scholar and financial planner. They ran the farm as a bastion of spiritual harmony. She milked the cows every morning to the strains of Beethoven.

Her gift reflects that we know not to trust those who follow us in life will honor our wishes. So the legal power of nature easements is the only sure way to guarantee a future for beautiful land.

How grand and powerful has the easement movement become? Some 30,254 acres in Montana’s Blackfoot Valley are covered by conservation easements, representing 50 miles of the river made famous in Norman Maclean’s book, “A River Runs Through It.” In Montana, conservation easements now protect 1.4 million acres.

Conservation easements truly have been a grand American invention. They conserve watersheds and aquifers, helping ensure a clean supply of water. They buffer treasured national park from development and human activity. Easement lands protect migratory corridors for wide-ranging animals that do not confine their movements to the boundaries of any park.

They buffer military bases and national forests. They also protect classic farms from being chopped into checkerboard housing projects.

To that end, Lisbet Temple is sharing her heritage with all of us. It’s a remarkable bequest.

Thanks, Lisbet. We owe you one.



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