Conservation Management and Planning I
Conservation Management and Planning I CSS 385
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Date Created: 10/23/15
Land Trusts and Conservation Easements A Primer Steve HoIenhorst Department of Conservation Social Science College of Natural Resources University of Idaho Readings on Current Land Trust Issues Washington Post expose on The Nature Conservancy read the three part series main articles Day 1 Day 3 at httpwww 39 quot M wp39 quot 39 Isnatureconservancv TNC s response httpnature 39 10505htm References The Land Trust Alliance httpwwwltaorg American Farmland Trust httpwwwfarmlandorg The Conservation Fund httpwwwconservationfundorg Trust for Public Land httpwwwtplorg Terms Land Trust Conservation easement Bargain sale Conservation values Baseline document Prohibited activities Permitted uses Enforcement rights Conservation buyer Uniform Conservation Easement Act UCEA Doctrines of changed conditions and cy pres Lecture Notes 1 Overview of Land Trusts a History First easements were actually written in the late 18805 to protect parkways designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in the Boston Area 1930 s the NPS made extensive use of easements to protect land along the Blue Ridge and Natchez Trace Parkways 1950 s Wisconsin established a highly successful easement acquisition program to protect land bordering the Great River Road along the Mississippi River 1959 William H Whyte s technical bulletin for the Urban Land Institute called Open Space for Urban America Conservation Easements States began to pass laws dealing with easements what they were how they could be created declaring their validity and outlining how they could be enforced and by whom The Uniform Conservation Easement Act UCEA was approved in 1981 by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws Fastest growing sector of the conservation movement in the US 1400 land trusts in US located in every state compared to 53 in 26 states in 1950 Over 62 million acres of land protected In the Pacific Northwest in 2001 70 local and regional land trusts protected 111000 acres f Total lands protected in the NW AK ID MT OR WA and WY total 885500 acres an area the size of Delaware and Rhode Island Most 778500 is in Montana 3388 2 Conservation Options for Landowners a Conservation easements b Land donation c Donating a remainder interest in land d Donating land by will e Bargain sale of land Overview of Conservation Easements a What is a conservation easement Historical preservation easement Agricultural easement Scenic easement Conservation easement b Why grant a conservation easement c What kind of property can be protected by an easement d Who can grant an easement To whom can they grant it e How restrictive is an easement f How long does an easement last g What are the grantee s responsibilities h Must an easement allow public access i How can donating an easement reduce a property owner s income tax See worksheet j How can donating an easement reduce a property owner s estate tax k How can donating an easement reduce a property owner s property tax Elements of a Conservation Easement a Date Names of Donors and DoneeConservancy Legal Description of Property Conveyance language Purpose of the Conservation Easement Identification of Conservation Values to be protected Open space and scenic Stated local state and regional public policy for land conservation Wildlife Ecologicalhabitatbiodiversity Watershed protection Adjacent protected lands Farmland Baseline Documentation separate document attached to easement Maps and photographs of all existing humanmade features vegetation fauna land use history natural features Narrative description of property Acknowledgment by both parties of the accuracy of the baseline document Prohibited Activities may include the following prohibitions Subdivision Commercial and Industrial activity Construction or placement of human modifications or structures Roads Cutting of vegetation Land surface alterations Dumping Modification of water courses Offroad recreation vehicles Signs and billboards i Permitted Uses may include the following permitted uses Right of conveyance Right to maintain or replace existing structures 2 33393 D v 339 v U39l COMO vvv 111 Right to add 39 a or 39 Agricultural activities Timber harvest may include restrictions Collection of firewood and nontimber products j Enforcement Rights of Grantee Entrance and access to property Prevention of uses inconsistent with the easement Require restoration Placement of signs identifying the project k Grantee s Remedies Delay in enforcement Notice and demand Failure to act consequences Payment of enforcementremediation costs Representations remediation control and indemnification Notification of hazardous waste Discretionary consent Access Assignment Parties subject to easement Recordation Taxes Subsequent transfers Extinguishment Eminent domain r General provisions easonableness Standard Controlling Law Liberal Title Entire Agreement and Future Amendments No Forfeiture Successors Heirs Devisees Personal Representatives and Assigns Severability Termination of Rights and Obligations Captions Counterparts Notices Signatures of both parties Notary Attached documents Legal description of property Baseline documentation Baseline document agreement Endowment agreement 9 Standards and practices for Land Trusts from the Land Trust Alliance a Purpose and Goals A land trust must have a clear purpose and goals b Board Accountability The board of directors must assume legal responsibility and accountability for the affairs of the organization c Conflict of Interest The board must take care that directors officers and staff avoid conflicts of interest d Basic Legal Requirements A land trust must understand and fulfill its basic legal requirements as a nonprofit taxexempt organization e Fundraising A land trust must conduct fundraising activities in an ethical and responsible 3 manner f Financial and Asset Management The board of directors must be absolutely certain that the land trust manages its finances and assets in a thoroughly responsible and accountable way g Staff Consultants and Volunteers A land trust must have help from volunteers consultants and in many cases paid staffwith appropriate skills and in sufficient numbers to carry out its programs Selecting Projects A land trust must be selective in choosing landsaving projects Choosing the Best Conservation Method A land trust must select the best available method for protecting each property Examining the Property A land trust must know the property it protects Ensuring Sound Transactions A land trust must ensure that every transaction is legally and technically sound and take steps to avoid future legal problems Tax Benefits A land trust must try to assure that landowners who plan to claim a federal tax deduction for a charitable gift or bargain sale of real property interests are informed about relevant Internal Revenue Code requirements and IRS regulations and that they obtain their own legal and tax advice regarding the gift39s deductibility Board Approval of Transactions The board is responsible for every land transaction Conservation Easement Stewardship A land trust must carry out a program of responsible stewardship for its easements Land Stewardship A land trust must carry out a program of responsible stewardship for its land U v X C v v 33 0 v 10 Example How a conservation easement can reduce income tax f 39 39 quot the Value of the quot Appraised fair market value of property 15000000 Appraised fair market value of property with an easement 6000000 Value of tax deductible donation assuming easement meets conservation purposes test1 9000000 Tax Deduction Annual adjusted gross income AGI 6000000 Amount that can be deducted each year maximum 30 of AGI 1800000 Years required to use up deduction value of easementyearly deduction 5 years 1 Conservation Purposes Test The donation of a conservation easement is a taxdeductible charitable gift provided that the easement is perpetual and is donated exclusively for conservation purposesquot to a qualified conservation organization or public agency Internal Revenue Code Section 170 h generally defines conservation purposesquot to include the following 1 The preservation of land areas for outdoor recreation by or the education of the general public 2 The protection of relatively natural habitats of fish wildlife or plants or similar ecosystems 3 The preservation of open space including farmland and forest land for scenic enjoyment or pursuant to an adopted governmental conservation policy in either case such open space preservation must yield a significant public benefit The preservation of historically important land areas or buildings P 4