Given the potentially very long list of important easement planning and drafting issues and the shorter time for this session, Karen and Steve will each have easement “template” language to focus on the following “hot topics” – (1) Establishing that the easement meets the “conservation purposes” tests in the tax code, with emphasis on what is and is not “clearly delineated government conservation policy”; (2) the need to “prove it” – show the reader of the documents, again and again, that the easement meets the “conservation purposes” tests; (3) watching out and drafting for reserved rights that could be called “inconsistent uses,” with emphasis on planning and drafting for reserved house sites and for commercial forestry; (4) amendments; (5) “extinguishment” and “proceeds” rules; (6) notice, approval, and “deemed denial” rules; and, as time allows, (7) other useful drafting tips.
Land conservation projects are, at their core, sophisticated real estate transactions. This workshop is specifically intended for non-attorneys and will acquaint participants with basic real estate concepts, legal elements of real estate transactions and outline the acquisition process from property identification through title searches and related due diligence to closing. Emphasis will be placed on basic legal terminology, possible pitfalls and practical advice. The topics will include: types of ownership and how interests in property can be held by different people; title searches, title insurance, and problems; liens and encumbrances; surveys and legal descriptions; due diligence and liability; letters of intent, purchase contracts, options, and rights of first refusal; basic information on deeds, conservation easements and other documents; and closing and recording.
Land trusts have increasing "due diligence" responsibilities related to the appraisal reports supporting easement donations, especially in light of recent Internal Revenue Service and Department of Justice proceedings against syndicators of easements and the land trusts involved. The presenters are the authors of the 2nd edition of Appraising Conservation and Historic Preservation Easements recently published by the Appraisal Institute in cooperation with the Land Trust Alliance. They will share their experience in preparing/reviewing hundreds of conservation easement appraisals for the IRS, the Department of Justice, and taxpayers over the past 20 years as well as in reviewing thousands of other charitable donations of real property for the Department of Justice. They will identify the critical elements of every conservation easement appraisal and the typical abuses they have found in their reviews of recently syndicated conservation easement donations. Among the critical elements often abused and to be discussed will be highest and best use analysis, selection and adjustment of comparable sales, and proper and improper use of discounted cash flow analysis. The presenters will provide a helpful "checklist" to assist land trusts in their review of appraisal reports and in identifying qualified appraisers.
As usual, there continues to be a lot going on at the Tax Court and at the IRS. We'll bring everyone up to speed on the latest developments in case law and on IRS actions to curtail conservation easement syndicated deals. We'll also provide practical take-away tips and observations from these cases for land trusts, especially in the areas of building envelopes and reserved rights, consistent uses and activities, amendments, termination and proceeds, and planning for a changing climate.
Are you wondering how to turn broad strategic planning goals into concrete changes to your acquisition program? This session will guide participants through a process of turning broad value statements into a decision-making tool for strategic acquisition.
In this session we will first review the process of how staff at the Marin Agricultural Land Trust developed organizational priorities, desired outcomes and impact areas in response to an organization-wide strategic planning process.
Second, it will describe how these ideas were used to create a tool for evaluating potential acquisitions based on an organization’s conservation values. Dive into concepts of assessing protection value and restoration potential, risk analysis and communication of results and explore different data sources used to inform the evaluation tool. Learn about the different GIS databases and analysis, field observations, and landowner interviews and their respective uses in evaluating a potential acquisition.
Finally, we will talk about how results from this tool help staff and the board of directors better understand a property while also giving them objective metrics with which to talk about and make more informed strategic acquisition decisions.
Land trust professionals in the United States sometimes think that their work is mostly confined to our country’s borders. However, during the past decade we have learned that private, and public-private, land conservation is happening and expanding around the world. This panel presentation will feature representatives of private lands networks in Australia, Europe, Chile, and the entire world! These leaders will discuss the differences and similarities between land trust practice in the United States and other geographies. They will also discuss just how much we all need to teach and learn from one another about the tools and strategies that define global conservation success. This will be a stimulating, informative and practical discussion of conservation action and opportunities beyond our borders.
This session will focus on current and emerging water rights issues in land and water conservation, particularly the challenges posed by climate change. We will begin with a discussion of the possible effects of climate change on conservation values and how to accommodate the future unknown effects of climate change in conservation transactions that involve water rights. Finally, the session will discuss the stewardship of water and land conservation consistent with conservation values and climate change. The presenters are all practicing water and conservation attorneys with experience in the Rocky Mountain, Intermountain and Pacific Coast states.
We will cover the purposes of easement baseline documentation reports (also referred to as “BDR” or “baseline report”) and essential and recommended elements for a strong BDR. Using examples, we will also discuss how to avoid common pitfalls.
This session will provide a high-level introduction on how to utilize voluntary carbon offset protocols to incentivize the preservation of our nation’s grasslands. We will include a brief overview of the components of a grassland offset project, a discussion on how the project works, the roles and responsibilities of each project partner (land trust, landowner and project developer), financing options and the monetization of offsets through the voluntary carbon market including a discussion on project aggregation. We will also discuss policy considerations around grassland carbon markets. Although this session is focused on grasslands, attendees without grasslands may still benefit from learning about carbon offsets in general, and how carbon offsets are sold to companies that wish to voluntarily reduce their carbon emissions.