Conservation Options

Striking a balance between development and nature

The very same characteristics that attract people to this region are being threatened by subdivision, development, and unsustainable land use practices. We understand the need to conserve the unique outdoor spaces that may otherwise be lost. Our goal is to help strike a balance between a growing, prosperous community and a healthy, diverse environment.

As their populations grew over the last century, communities began to recognize the need to conserve important natural treasures in the Driftless area. The protection of Apple River Canyon, Galena Gateway Park, and Horseshoe Mound, are examples of early conservation projects. Today we are building on this foundation to broaden the opportunities for conservation by working cooperatively with others to conserve our bluffs, prairies, wetlands, streams, and sites where Indigenous Peoples lived for centuries prior to first European contact.

How we protect land

We accomplish all of our land protection work by partnering with willing landowners. We don’t regulate land use but instead provide tools and opportunities for landowners to preserve their properties so that future generations may enjoy the land just as they do today.

We protect land in three primary ways:
  • Conservation easements — Landowners continue to live and work on their property and may even sell or give it to their children or other relatives. At the same time, the landowners with conservation easements are assured that the conservation values of the property will be protected forever
  • Land donation — We work with willing landowners who are interested in donating, bequeathing or selling land to become natural areas. These sites provide habitat for wildlife and are available for hiking, bird-watching, skiing, and other nature-based outdoor recreation.
  • Land Registry— If you are conserving and enhancing the natural resources on your land but are not ready for any permanent conservation method, consider enrolling in our Land Stewardship Registry Program. This is a non-binding recognition program that rewards you for being a good land steward.

Want More Information?

Please contact JDCF Land Protection staff at