The MUB Watershed Protection Program is a new, voluntary initiative designed to protect Mon County’s water quality by preserving land around MUB’s drinking water sources: the Monongahela River and Cobun Creek.
Through the Watershed Protection Program, MUB will work with interested landowners to set up voluntary protections on their land such as conservation easements, deed restrictions, and other conservation measures.
MUB is piloting this effort in the Cobun Creek watershed: the land between Kingwood Pike and Grafton Road.
This is not a one-size-fits-all program: There are many options for landowners who are interested in conserving their property, as described below. MUB has compiled a team of experts from Downstream Strategies and the West Virginia Land Trust to help interested landowners review available options and identify the best way to protect their land.
Key land protection strategies
A conservation easement is a voluntary, legally-binding agreement between a landowner and a land trust or other entity that permanently defines uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Landowners retain ownership and use of the land with a conservation easement in place. When placing land under easement, the owners work with the land trust to decide on terms that are right for their family and right for the land. As a result, conservation easements provide strong, permanent protections because they remain intact if the parcel is sold or passed on from generation to generation. In addition, landowners who establish conservation easements are often eligible for significant tax benefits.
Deed restrictions and use agreements
Like conservation easements, deed restrictions are legally binding restrictions of the use of land. They can be structured to provide short- or long-term protections and generally do not transfer with the property upon sale.
Deed restrictions can provide protection from undesired development or other activities, while encouraging land conservation and watershed protection. Landowners who establish deed protections could also change the restrictions to conservation easements in the future.
Land purchase or donation
In some cases, landowners may be interested in voluntarily selling or donating land near the Monongahela River or Cobun Creek to the MUB Watershed Protection Program, where it will be permanently protected.
Donations and fundraising proceeds for the MUB Watershed Protection Program will be held in a designated fund to support the acquisition of vital parcels of land within the Monongahela and Cobun Creek watersheds.
Voluntary conservation incentives
Even simple measures can make a big difference in protecting water quality. Landowners and homeowners throughout Mon County can protect or improve downstream water quality simply by adopting sound conservation practices on their properties. These conservation practices include planting vegetation along stream banks, following best management practices, and properly maintaining onsite septic systems. Incentives, including financial assistance, may be available to help landowners initiate these practices through MUB's Watershed Protection Program.