In November 2014, Sonoma Land Trust received a call from a neighbor about a potential conservation easement violation. A mere four years later we received the winning ruling. Our successful defense against a worst case scenario -- an egregious violation by deep pocketed, litigious, successor landowners with no respect for conservation easements --has provided many lessons learned about conservation easement stewardship. We will take the audience through the discovery of the violation, our communications with the landowners and our efforts to reach an amicable solution outside the court room. We will share specific examples of how important conservation easement template language, the "boiler plate," can be central to success in the courtroom. We will highlight how things as simple as a well done baseline report can make a difference. We will share how we handled correspondence and communications that made a significant impact in the case. Once litigation begins, it is a whole new world with rules and practices that are different than outside the courtroom. Participants will learn, in plain language, how to mentally prepare for what may come, from deposition to testifying on the stand. We will share our lessons learned, what we did right, what we did wrong and how we have brought those lessons into our organization to better protect easements moving forward.
Session Level: Intermediate Session Location: Raleigh Convention Center