In 2017, leaders of the SD Cattlemen’s Association began exploring the possibility of establishing an ag-focused land trust in South Dakota, patterned after similar land trusts in other states.
A feasibility study completed in November 2017 showed that South Dakota landowners could benefit from the products and services of an agriculture-based land trust. Today, there is essentially no functioning statewide land trust or other entity that is qualified to work with conservation partners such as Natural Resources Conservation Service to meet the demand from landowners (NRCS receives approximately 200 inquiries per year about its conservation easement programs) and conserve our state’s natural resources.
The core focus of the SDALT will be education and outreach, and delivering voluntary conservation solutions that work for ag producers. SDALT will work with landowners to facilitate and hold voluntary and perpetual conservation easements, as well as provide certain estate planning services that relate directly to conservation easements.
SDALT will monitor and steward conservations, and will provide services related to payment for ecosystem services programs. In short, SDALT will be another tool available for South Dakota’s farmers and ranchers in achieving their conservation goals.