Ernie Lane and Fred Bordelon grew up Greenville, Mississippi where they developed an appreciation for the bottomland hardwood forests in the floodplain of the Mississippi River. They both enjoy fishing and duck hunting and exploring the natural world around them. Few people have spent more time hunting ducks in the Mississippi Delta than Bordelon and Lane.
In 1989 Bordelon and Lane convinced a friend to sell them the beautiful bottomland forest they now own and manage. Approximately 40% of the land had been in catfish ponds and agricultural fields until 1990 but was enrolled then in the Conservation Reserve Program to produce a more natural state. In 1999 Lane and Bordelon learned about the conservation easement program of the Mississippi Land Trust. They agreed to donate a conservation easement to the Trust on their 189 acres with the understanding that Bordelon and Lane would be the stewards of the entire property.
Lane, an attorney, wrote his own conservation easement agreement. It restricts all commercial and industrial activity and any commercial access through or across their 189 acres. The easement allows the landowners to build in two designated sites on the property. In these areas Bordelon and Lane can add to their camp house, construct outbuildings, storage sheds, a wood shop, fences, parking and even a sauna. They can use the property for hunting, fishing, education and research, and they offer use of the property to nature groups, biologists and students.
The conservation easement allows Bordelon and Lane to selectively harvest sweetgum and other trees to improve the property's timber stand for both tree quality and wildlife. It also provides for some fire management to enhance diversity and control the cane around the house.
Bordelon and Lane want to use the property in ways that will not harm it, which is why Lane wrote a strict conservation easement. Lane explains, "When I bought this property I wanted to protect it permanently and completely. I wanted it to be a shining example of how to preserve such an important ecosystem and practice waterfowl management." These two lifelong friends are glad to have people observe the protection of the natural character of the property. "This property is special because it has some of everything: a small bayou, big hardwood trees, clean drinking water and lots of good deer and waterfowl hunting," stated Bordelon.