With the call to increase land protection tenfold every year between now and 2030, land trusts must find new ways to identify and protect lands faster and to manage them for effectiveness. That means being even more strategic and implementing efficiencies into workflows to prioritize, engage, secure and monitor lands at top speed. We also must include communities and lands that traditionally have been left out for various systemic reasons and evolve our field to be more inclusive. Geospatial technologies help us understand where to direct resources and policies that will have the best outcomes for people and nature. Data shows us where protected lands can provide multiple benefits like health, biodiversity, equity and climate resilience.
No matter where your organization is in terms of capacity, funding or technical sophistication, you can tap into the power of data, science and technology to prioritize, secure and track protected lands. Experts from NatureServe, Center for Geospatial Solutions, the International Land Conservation Network and Upstream Tech will show you examples of how to access and use data and technology for your goals and how to tap into partnerships or networks that can support and amplify your work. We cannot meet these audacious land protection goals alone. Short presentations will be followed by an interactive panel session to discuss challenges, needs and the path forward as well as addressing participant questions.
This session will introduce participants to new and emerging opportunities for their networks of landowners to take advantage of funding for forest stewardship through the carbon market. It will focus on the Family Forest Carbon Program, a practice-based program developed by the American Forest Foundation and The Nature Conservancy to meet the challenges that many smaller-acre landowners face when considering traditional forest carbon offset programs. It will also include a discussion about our initial findings on the most aspects of a carbon program for smaller family landowners of less than 2,400 acres.
For land trusts in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade region, the drought, flooding, and catastrophic wildfires of the past several years have brought the climate crisis into stark relief. Of the ten largest fires ever in California, eight have occurred since 2010, and three were in 2020. Recently, the 14 land trusts and six larger conservation organizations that are part of the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council worked together to create a strategic conservation plan for the region. Accelerating strategic conservation in the Sierra Cascade is crucial for ensuring that the region’s forests, waters, wildlife, and working lands are part of the solution to the climate crisis. This means protecting more land and water and it means actively managing land to promote health and resilience. Developing a regional conservation plan involved both data-driven assessment of conservation impacts and thoughtful stakeholder engagement and consensus-building. Building stronger collaborations with Indigenous groups to foster social justice and to restore traditional burning practices to reduce the risk of catastrophic fires emerged as a strong priority in the conservation plan. This session will show participants how land trusts can work together to create tools and a shared vision that will help them work together to accelerate the pace and scale of conservation and increase climate resilience.
Eastern Brook Trout are a poster child for the direct impacts of climate change. When stream temperatures stay above 20 degrees Celsius for more than a few hours, brook trout either have to find colder water or die. Is there a coldwater stream on your property or a property you seek to protect? Will the aquatic habitat and its key species survive the effects of climate change? Can you take steps to help secure future water supplies and habitat productivity? Cold water ecosystems that support trout are at high risk from climate change. Without action almost 50% of trout habitat is projected to be lost in the western United States. Addressing this challenge requires land managers take steps to understand the status of streams on their properties through data collection, and developing strategies for removing barriers to fish migration and restoring or improving habitat. This session will detail how the science and land conservancy programs of Trout Unlimited are assisting land trusts in identifying, documenting and then protecting land with critical coldwater habitat. These partnerships involve citizen science and the development and implementation of habitat restoration and adaptation plans. Land trusts and TU have used both professionals and volunteers to collect important data on stream ecology, flood vulnerability and stream geomorphology to design and implement restoration projects to mitigate climate risks.
Our current tools for protecting and managing land, such as conservation easements, management plans, definitions of compatible human use, and emphasis on western scientific practice, are part of our archetypal conservation framework. As such, they are tools limited by the dominant culture’s lived experiences, are not inclusive, and do not honor other ways of knowledge as equally valid. We see an opportunity to expand the scope of these tools, and perhaps co-create new ones, to restore Indigenous rights on the land where full land rematriation is not yet possible. In this session we will explore the racist and exclusionary history of conservation and conservation tools, to understand ways in which conservation practice could be expanded to restore Indigenous sovereignty, self-determination and to honor and implement Treaties as they were intended to be by the signatories.
Open Space Institute Land Trust, a New York-based conservation organization, recently completed "Open Spaces for All," an in-depth study on developing a more inclusive state park system for New York. This session will share initial outcomes and lessons learned through the research process and active engagement with hundreds of community members, businesses, organizations, land professionals, agency partners, and funders statewide. The innovative approach and strategies identified through this study offer land managers, agencies, and conservation partners meaningful lessons to increase inclusivity, connect with communities, and broaden constituencies.
Major factors in the success of the land trust movement have been the development of legally rigorous and replicable best practices and a cooperative community of land trusts willing to share this knowledge. Written materials, trainings, and conferences within the field have emphasized technical skills for conservationists, enduring conservation outcomes (transactions), healthy, sustainable organizations, and healthy, sustainable lands. In spite of quantitative data and qualitative observations showing increasing levels of staff turnover, burnout, work-related stress, climate change related stress, politically-related stress, depression, and suicide within the nonprofit sector, the health and sustainability of conservation practitioners has received less emphasis. In recognition of these concerning trends, fellow conservationists and I have recently created the Center for Conservation Renewal, the mission of which is to build a more inspired, healthy, enduring, and just conservation movement and culture by supporting the WHY and wellness of conservationists. The services and experiences we are offering in support of this mission include: nature-based trainings, counseling and coaching, mentoring, retreats, mini-sabbaticals, ceremony and ritual, and health/spa treatments (e.g., massage, energy healing, etc.). Specific skill development for the workshop will include navigating life and work transitions, burnout, and founder syndrome. We seek input about our proposed approaches and offerings and conclude with an exercise in recognizing and coping with burnout.
Land conservation projects are, at their core, sophisticated real estate transactions. This workshop is specifically intended for beginners 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.
This session will take a hard look at one state’s journey to curtail syndicated conservation easement tax abuse and reform its tax incentive program using certification and pre-approval of holder and easement processes, and how these solutions can be used in the fight against current syndication abuse. Presenters will shed light on lessons learned (and learning) for the good of the greater conservation community during the years’ long journey including: the impact of syndicated conservation transactions on your organization, from conservation community confusion and donor distrust to orphaned or neglected easements and fee land divestiture; how to repair harm to landowners, how to rebuild trust in land trusts and conservation tools, and how to manage neglected easements and landscapes along the way.
In uncertain times, land trusts with a focus on both short and long-term revenue and resources experience less disruption of services. One way to ensure the longevity of your organization is to develop and execute a planned giving program. Giving USA reported 10% of 2019 giving in the United States was from bequests, and research has shown that donors who include a planned gift in their estate tend to increase their current giving. A planned giving program can help your land trust now and into the future.
In this interactive session, participants will address key questions such as:
- What is a planned gift?
- How do we identify who is a prospect?
- How will we communicate with prospects our organization’s willingness to accept
- What is the process to accept the gift?
- How do we ask someone for a planned gift?
- How can we effectively steward and recognize planned gifts?
Using the Lummi Island’s Heritage Trust’s recently launched Legacy Campaign as a case study, we will explore the lessons learned (both good and bad) and how your land trust can develop or enhance your planned giving program.
Have you ever wondered if your land trust could conserve land through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) and just weren’t sure where to start? Join NRCS Director of Conservation Innovations Team and Projects Branch Chief, Kari Cohen, for an overview of the RCPP program. You’ll learn about program eligibility requirements, and gain an understanding of the differences between RCPP Classic and the new RCPP and how Alternative Funding Arrangements work. The NRCS team will walk you through the program nuances and answer your questions about program participation.
As the frequency and scale of natural disasters increases across the globe, local communities and organizations need more expertise, tools and resources to prepare and respond when disaster strikes. Since 2017, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has spent over $45 billion in recovery funding for states impacted by wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and tropical storms. As the consequences of climate change are hitting us all at the community and personal level, Congress has directed FEMA to expand their mandate to invest in more climate-resilient communities and natural infrastructure. The learning objectives of this session are to (1) Better prepare your land trust and community for a natural disaster by gaining an understanding of the relationship between local disaster preparedness planning, and the state and federal emergency management agencies (2) Learn from land trusts in California and Oregon that worked with FEMA and state agencies after devastating wildfires to try to secure hazard mitigation funding for land conservation and restoration (3) Gain an in-depth understanding of the 2021 funding opportunity and application process for FEMA's new Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) Program which "aims to categorically shift the federal focus away from reactive disaster spending and toward research-supported, proactive investment in community resilience."
Climate change is a global problem with intense local effects. The Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation sponsored and broadly publicized a forum at which diverse elements of our largely rural community -- beset by a decade of extreme weather resulting in millions and millions of dollars of property damage, crop loss, and even loss of life -- heard from four speakers. Presenting the problem side in our forum were a charismatic local weatherman/climatologist and a county engineer/infrastructure expert. On the solutions side were an Illinois Extension disaster mitigation expert and a regional clean energy district organizer. This program created a catalyst for our county board to resolve to consider climate change in future decisions and resulted in increased interest in creating a local green energy district. We believe our forum is replicable by other land trust conservation educators and can make an impact in their communities. The goal of the workshop will be to explain how we put this program together, provide examples of speakers and content that we consider critical and to engage with participants in thinking about their own local communities and how they can take our template and apply it to their particular situations.
Increasingly, land trusts are discovering the power of bolstering their stewardship toolkits with new technologies and perspectives. Remote monitoring has helped stewardship teams to respond quickly to threats to conserved land and track longer-term impacts on changing landscapes, ensuring that land trusts can uphold the promise of protecting land in perpetuity. In this session, we will share practical tips to help you implement a successful remote monitoring program. We will cover how to identify the optimal technology and vendor to suit your needs, review imagery and document your findings, evaluate the return on investment of a remote monitoring program, and keep landowners engaged throughout the process. We will also provide information about upcoming grant opportunities that can help your land trust to try new remote monitoring approaches.
Note: This is a longer, 2.5-hour session. As community-based organizations, it’s important that land trusts are authentically and fully engaging with all members of their community. However, if a land trust lacks a deep understanding of its community’s history and the wider role conservation has played in perpetuating systemic racism and land dispossession, it is at a severe disadvantage in making important community connections. In a series of panels and breakout groups, we will explore various policies and practices that created the unequal fabric of land ownership and control we see today. We will also share how your land trust can use the new resources in the Alliance’s History of Land Conservation Curriculum (forthcoming) to better understand what happened in your own region. The workshop will wrap up with a case study of a Massachusetts land trust that used local history to help guide and deepen its community-based conservation work. Come prepared to learn from a diverse group of experts, recover long-hidden stories and discuss strategies to uncover local history and apply that new knowledge to your conservation efforts.
What does conservation mean in an urban context? Can conservation principles be applied to socio-cultural considerations? Cities are subject to a confluence of factors both environmental and social. Density is the bellwether of opportunity, but drives fundamental changes to natural assets and overdraws existing ecosystems. Growth is an indicator of prosperity, but brings with it speculation, gentrification, displacement, and ultimately erasure. Community Land Trusts are a vehicle for not just the protection and preservation of land, but its residents as well. Community Land Trusts are a form for nonprofit land ownership which values communities and their assets as resources rather than commodities; supporting community agency, environmental integration, and prioritizing placemaking. Public space, land and water management, climate resilience, and sustainability are what begin to define value, rather than the realm of speculative capital. Community Land Trusts extend the sphere of conservation to include those who utilize land, rather than simply the land itself. Municipalities magnify the impacts of climate change, both environmentally and socially. Grappling with the reality of climate change means addressing both the technical problems and broader socio-economic impacts. Orienting the composition of communities toward long-term sustainable and climatically appropriate growth while also establishing a shared responsibility of investment into community well-being and sustainability enhances both the opportunity for investment within a community, as well as the opportunity for return. Conservation principles are strengthened when they apply to Community Land Trusts as they are applicable to both the land as well as the community that lives within it.
2021 has brought about a major vaccine rollout, and signs of the next “normal” have been popping up all over, but the effects of the pandemic will be long-lasting, particularly in the nonprofit sector. If you haven’t revisited your strategic priorities, now is the time. Join us for this interactive session focused on knowledge gained from past crises and how it can be applied to our current situation; best practices and new ways of thinking about engagement and recovery; and how to leverage this period of recovery to innovate and create positive change.
This session will focus on current and emerging water rights issues in land and water conservation, including the challenges posed by hydrological variability (drought) and climate change. Presenters will walk participants through a complex ranch conservation opportunity involving multiple water rights, numerous/competing conservation values, and adjacent private and federal land and water right owners on an over-appropriated stream. Finally, we will discuss the stewardship of water and land conservation consistent with conservation values, hydrological variability and climate change. The presenters are all practicing water and conservation attorneys with experience in the Rocky Mountain, Intermountain and Pacific Coast states.
The workshop will explore why and how conservation at the landscape scale is needed to make progress on the three primary themes of this year's Rally--inclusion, climate and water. It will focus on practical tools and examples from three ongoing landscape scale projects and how land trusts can participate in larger scale conservation to meet the important 21st Century conservation challenges identified by Rally organizers. This will be done by presenting case studies of three successful large-scale projects--the Bayou Greenway Project in Houston for inclusion of diverse people in on-the-ground conservation in a large metro area; the Central Appalachian project of TNC to illustrate how to address climate change mitigation and adaptation through creation of a climate-based forest economy in what has been a coal mining region; and the longstanding work of the Natural Lands Trust to discuss the multi-faceted protection of the Delaware River watershed. Each panelist will emphasize practical tools for accomplishing conservation goals and how non-profit organizations, including land trusts, can play a vital role. We will then engage the audience in a structured discussion around tools, techniques, risks and opportunities to apply the lessons learned from these landscapes to other places. The moderator will draw final lessons from the workshop to be communicated to the Land Trust Alliance and to the Network for Landscape Conservation. These lessons will become part of the NLC's ongoing effort to work with land trusts to encourage cooperative conservation across large landscapes.
Note: This workshop is a longer, 2.5-hour session. Land trusts work with many people including landowners, members, community members and policy leaders. Often this work involves difficult conversations or controversial topics, whether it is the effects of our changing climate, talking with people who don’t trust you, or reaching out to communities that you don’t feel yourself part of. This can feel uncomfortable. Yet if we are going to conserve more land, be more relevant, and inspire more action on climate, we need to be more comfortable talking with people from all walks of life. There are many opportunities to learn about messages and framing that work for various audiences; however, there are few opportunities to practice what you learn in a low-stakes environment. Effective communication is more than what you say, it’s also how you listen and respond to the other person. The good news is that there are proven techniques to engage with people in a respectful and thoughtful manner. This workshop will provide you with the skills needed to have a dialogue rather than talking past one another. Through a series of fun, interactive exercises, you’ll practice crucial communication skills that can improve your ability to understand and to be understood. Building these skills can help you create more authentic connections, share your message more effectively, and grow your land trust’s influence in your community.
All donor databases are useless if you don’t know how to use them. And they are all so different. What are the common denominators? What data should we be entering? What can we expect to learn? Can we trust the results? How can we use what we learn to make better decisions and raise more money for conservation? This workshop will address many of these questions and explore best practices in donor data management. Our case studies will feature Little Green Light and Salesforce, but our point-of-view is not so much system-specific, but rather: How do we get information we can use from the data we have?
This interactive workshop will lead participants through an exercise to incorporate climate change considerations in stewardship activities. We will walk through an adaptation process outlined in “A quick start guide to adaptation planning for land trusts” to answer questions such as: 1) What are your stewardship goals? 2) Are you weighing climate risks and vulnerabilities that may affect those goals? 3) What are the actions you can take on your land to help address climate risks? We will introduce adaptation strategies and associated tools and discuss how to begin evaluating your stewardship activities through a climate lens. Walk away with motivation and ideas for action.
Flooding, sea level rise, and declining water quality are byproducts of climate change affecting communities across the country. The preservation of open space, reforestation, riparian and coastal buffer restoration and the use of green infrastructure are all powerful tools to increase resiliency. These projects also yield many co-benefits appreciated by nature lovers across the political spectrum. Land trusts are uniquely positioned to use water related issues as an entry point to a place-based conversation about climate change. The session will draw on The Watershed Institute’s experience educating audiences about climate related water-related issues and natural solutions and will provide an overview of the C-Change Conversations Primer that has been widely and successfully presented to moderate and conservative audiences across the country, reaching almost 15,000 people across 30 states to date. The politically neutral, nonpartisan approach of this presentation is effective with groups who feel uncomfortable talking about climate. Reaching groups like land trust supporters to deliver compelling data from trusted sources is critical to expanding our country’s understanding of the risk of a changing climate and to shifting the perception of climate change from a political issue to a human one that will affect everyone.
Have you ever wondered if your community would be a good candidate for a community forest? Are you curious to learn more about what potential benefits could result from the community forest model and how others are finding success in this model of ownership and management? This session will begin with an introduction to the community forest model. This will include an overview of the U.S. Forest Service’s Community Forest and Open Space Program, as well as the program’s eligibility requirements and application process. The session will also provide insight about the economic benefits of community forests, drawing on over a dozen examples of projects across the country that have been compiled as part of a recent case study report about the economic benefits of community forests. The highlighted community forest examples will showcase different landowner types (e.g., local government, NGO, and tribal), economic benefits (e.g., recreation, tourism, water quality, climate change mitigation) and community types (e.g. rural, suburban, and urban). The session will then include a deep-dive with a community forest practitioner into a specific community forest initiative and the impact it has had on the local community. The team will also provide information about where to learn more about the community forest process and economic benefits, including links to resources such as the recent report completed by The Trust for Public Land in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service and in consultation with a number of NGO and philanthropic partners with community forest related expertise.
Since the 1980s, a land trust model has evolved in cities across the U.S. focused on the preservation of community-managed open spaces that are woven into the fabric of urban neighborhoods. Common uses include community gardens, sitting parks, flower gardens, and children’s play spaces. While the acreage is often small compared to traditional land trusts, the social, health, environmental, and economic benefits these spaces provide, and the economic and racial diversity of the communities they serve are deeply impactful. These impacts are made possible in large measure because of their innovative shared stewardship models. In this session, representatives of Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Gardens Trust, Chicago NeighborSpace, and a third land trust will discuss their similar community-rooted models. Their land preservation projects often grow out of grassroots organizing efforts to transform underutilized land in areas that have experienced historic disinvestment and lack adequate access to green space, outdoor recreation, and healthy food. We will examine what stewardship means in the context of urban land conservation and how responsibilities are shared between the land trusts, self-organized community-based groups, and often local government entities. Once land is secured, the land trusts shoulder responsibilities that come with land ownership and enter into agreements with local stewardship groups that hold primary responsibility for day-to-day maintenance, operations and programming. The formalizing of these responsibilities serves as a catalyst for building community capacity, cohesion, and resilience. By literally “holding space” and then carefully stepping back, the land trusts facilitate a domain where local groups can have the authority.
Panelists will walk participants through the collaborative process that was carried out to protect an 18th and 19th century African Burial Ground in Kingston, New York, including a novel youth-led site design and community engagement program. Participants will learn how their own organizations can play an appropriate role in helping put land back into BIPOC hands with long term protection on the land. This workshop will present the land protection tools and approaches used for this NY case study and will highlight lessons learned to help parallel efforts navigate the nuances of cross-cultural partnerships, especially around land sovereignty, transfer of ownership and long-term protection. The process of establishing an innovative conservation easement that prioritizes cultural conservation values will be the backbone of this workshop.
Leadership change is inevitable, and may occur at an inopportune time. How will your organization be impacted? Attend this interactive session to understand your risk and start getting prepared for the future. We will identify key steps every organization should take to be prepared for a transition in leadership, whether a planned departure or in an emergency situation. Attendees will leave prepared to create a succession plan for their organization. The session is appropriate for executives and board members of organizations of all sizes.
Do you (does your land trust) have a love-hate relationship with Strategic Planning? Is your Plan collecting a little dust? You are not alone. Strategic Planning, however important, requires a significant investment – in time and money. Too often, the return on that investment (ROI) is not recognized, understood or leveraged. In this interactive session, we’ll discuss various planning processes, share our successes and challenges with planning, learn how to re-kindle the Strategic Planning fire, use your Plan internally to keep the fire burning, and just as important, use your Plan to generate exciting new support for your land trust – all guaranteeing your ROI is strong.
For years, many land trusts have believed, in good faith, that their easement “template” provisions were sound, protected the conservation values, and satisfied the IRS deduction rules. However, recent IRS actions and court decisions have denied deductions based on particular easement provisions that in many cases, based on years of drafting and learning, were considered to met all the relevant requirements for a tax deduction. Steve and Karin will go over drafting suggestions in the face of a number of very important court decisions, including since last Rally, that have had a major impact on “traditional” easement clauses, including reserved building sites, amendment provisions, and the “proceeds” rules. We will also discuss how to approach easement drafting and amendments in light of anticipated but unknown impacts on land from climate change.
Join this session for a discussion on common title problems, how they can be identified and how they can be resolved. We will start with an overview of common title problems that may create impediments to the long-term conservation of real property. We will also discuss the importance of title insurance as a means of insuring against those risksas well as the purpose and mechanics of quiet title litigation. We'll close the workshop with an interactive discussion of three to four real-life scenarios in which land trusts have been involved in title litigation.
Land trusts are trying to better understand their audiences and reach new people, while also still taking care of their long time supporters. But, how do you make interesting work that speaks to both? How do you tell non-traditional conservation stories that are engaging, responsive and sensitive to the needs of people as well as the environment? This session will share how to re-think conservation storytelling, make it digital, make it responsive and make it relevant to any audience.
With two-thirds of land in the Lower 48 under private ownership, many imperiled species depend on private land for their recovery. Land trusts are well-positioned to be leaders in stemming the current biodiversity and climate change crises. This workshop will demonstrate how land trusts can access funding to conserve wildlife through habitat protection and restoration, active management for key species, and strategic investments in rare, unique, or exceptional habitats. Action is needed to safeguard natural and agricultural resources and build the adaptive capacity of both wildlife and working lands as the climate changes. Defenders of Wildlife will review U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) funding sources for private lands. The USFWS will provide an overview of the Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) Program and how to develop competitive applications. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy will provide a case study of a land trust partnering with PFW. Wetland area in Ohio has decreased by approximately 90 percent since European colonization, resulting in watersheds that lack adequate wetland and floodplain buffers. Fortunately, several funding sources, including the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, prioritize water quality and habitat, and PFW and the Land Conservancy work with other local partners to wetland restoration projects that improve water quality and provide habitat for species such as the federally threatened Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. This workshop is relevant to the three Land Trust Standards and Practices related to evaluating and selecting conservation projects and ensuring responsible stewardship of conservation easements and land held in fee for conservation purposes.
To keep global temperature rise below 2-degrees Celsius, natural climate solutions must play a critical role. Carbon offset markets are one important tool for helping land trusts use their land to mitigate climate change and contribute to climate solutions. The Alliance believes that carbon markets are a potentially significant mechanism in bringing meaningful, new conservation finance to the table to fuel land stewardship and acquisition. Since 2013, more than a dozen lands trusts have developed forest offset projects, and generated significant revenue. These land trusts and their project development partners have learned important lessons and charted a successful path to market. However, many land trusts with more modest forest fee ownerships have found that path too challenging to follow due to
barriers including high cost of project development. Assessing the major obstacles facing most land trusts, while building on existing land trust offset projects, the Land Trust Alliance and Finite Carbon are collaborating to assist accredited land trusts in climate change planning and carbon offset project development. In this session, participants will learn through three examples of developed forest carbon offset projects, including the Passamaquoddy Tribe and two land trusts, about innovative tools to facilitate land trust access to forest carbon offset markets, including legal agreements for pooling lands between aligned landowners into joint projects.
Looking for a partner match? Interested in water quality and reduction of flood waters? Come hear how the Department of Defense (DoD) and its partners play a crucial role in land conservation, natural resource restoration, and climate resilience. DoD owns and manages over 25 million acres of land across the country. Many of these properties are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Recurrent flooding, drought, extreme wildfires, and rising sea levels are among the threats that military installations currently face. Learn from experts about the Salt Marsh Initiative and efforts to respond to changing environmental conditions all while helping to protect the military mission and local economies.
Land trusts and public Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) programs already excel at protecting farmland and ranchland. But increasingly, practitioners are searching for tools to encourage, incentivize or require management practices on that land that will provide greater ecosystem benefits such as clean water, carbon sequestration, and wildlife habitat. This workshop will explore the pros and cons of various strategies, from conservation or management plan requirements to ecological overlay easements to separate management contracts or affirmative covenants. We'll also explore a new concept that uses a tenancy-in-common approach. We'll discuss challenges around valuation, financing and monitoring, and will look at some research underway to develop an alternative easement valuation tool that captures market value of ecosystem benefits. This is an exciting and evolving area of programing for agricultural land protection practitioners; come with your own examples and questions!
This workshop , featuring the Wabanaki Commission and First Light, will explore one of the most ambitious efforts in our country from the conservation movement to relearn history, repair relationships and return land. Here is a look into what land justice means and how relearning, recentering and repairing offers conservation a unique opportunity to grow and find its true promise. Piercing the fog of privilege, we will try to relearn American history and how the same patterns of colonization created our conservation movement. We will look at the work of First Light, now in its third year of repairing relationships and sharing land and resources between land-holding organizations and Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac and Maliseet First Nations. We will explore what is at stake and what is to be gained through these efforts to engage differently and to share perspective and power.
Note: This workshop is a longer, 2.5-hour session. Western Reserve Land Conservancy is the result of 13 mergers of traditional land trusts that worked in predominantly white, affluent places in Northeast Ohio. In 2008 the organization began a journey to learn how to serve cities and densely urbanized places such as Cleveland. This resulted in the creation of urban programs, and a deep commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. The mission transformation from exurban to holistic has been incredibly successful. Learn from four leaders how this evolution happened. Lessons learned. Insights gained. Friction encountered and overcome. The racial diversification of our board and staff. How to move from a charitable framework to a reciprocal framework of relationships in urban areas and distressed communities.
Knowledge is power. With organization, thorough planning, and actively using the accreditation requirements in your daily practice, you will feel ready and confident to prepare your best application. Learn from accreditation reviewers about how they review your application and gain insights on how changes in the 2021 Requirements Manual might impact your work. As a participant you will leave knowing timesaving short-cuts, how to pre-screen your documents to avoid common problems, how to leverage the Requirements Manual, and more. Appropriate for land trust staff and board members with an interest in first-time or renewal of accreditation that have some familiarity with the land trust accreditation process.
Effective land trust leaders have spent the last 18 months rapidly adapting how they operate while sticking to a clear strategy and focusing on strategic goals. Now what? Your board and staff have learned how to work virtually. You held your annual fundraiser on Zoom. You created a whole new approach to staying connected to landowners, donors, and partners. And people in your community are relating to open space and spending time outdoors in new and exciting ways. Too much has changed to return to business as usual.
Attend this interactive workshop and learn how to use developing (or updating) a business plan to walk through a series of questions that aligns your operations and capacity with your strategic goals and this new reality. Clarify for yourself and others which changes you will sustain, what opportunities you will pursue, and how you can leverage strengths to meet your conservation goals and serve your community.
Note: This workshop is a longer, 2.5-hour session. Many landowners expect to obtain a federal charitable tax deduction as part of their gifts of money or property to land trusts. However, there are many tricky rules that landowners must follow to prove that they properly made the gift and deserve a tax deduction for it. The IRS has fully denied deductions because of improperly completed forms, the absence of required documentation, or the failure of an appraisal to comply with all the rules in the Tax Code and the Treasury Regulations. These denials are increasing due to abusive syndications and the IRS’s resulting suspicion of conservation transactions. While donors are legally responsible for substantiating donations, land trusts may assist donors to understand the forms and requirements, so long as the land trust does not provide legal advice. Land Trust Standards and Practices include best practices for ensuring that the gifts accepted by land trusts are not part of the abusive tax shelter schemes being promoted across the country. There are several standards and practices that apply specifically to gift substantiation and appraisals, and those will be discussed in detail along with the legal requirements.
Momentum is building around the idea of 30 x 30, the goal of protecting 30% of the Earth by 2030. But what qualifies as protected land and water? The session will explore the origins of 30 x 30 as an interim goal in the call for setting aside half of the planet for nature. The panelists, representing a broad geographic diversity in the US, will make the case that rewilding and biodiversity preservation must be at the heart of these initiatives. The session will address the welcome trend of increased attention to climate issues, but point to the need to address the extinction crisis as well. The overall goal is a spirited conversation on how the American land trust movement can advance progress on 30 x 30’s scientific underpinnings through bold action, pressing for both landscape-scale land protection and adequate safeguards to preserve native flora, fauna, and the planet.
Note: This workshop is a longer, 2.5-hour session. Land trusts operate within a historic and present-day context, transacting at the intersection of land and wealth. This session aims to ask and help participants begin to answer the question, “How can your organization use its access to financial and social capital to make your conservation work more equitable?” The session will provide helpful framing, ideas, and examples for organizations at various points on their journey to expand the boundaries of their work and to create a more just land conservation movement for all. It will also invite participants to consider how past disinvestment in communities by conservationists and broader systemic forces informs present-day obligations for action. Participants will gain insight and practical guidance on why and how to elevate the voices of marginalized communities in decision-making and project co-creation as well as to ensure that marginalized communities have more equitable access to conserved land and its benefits. Though these issues extend far beyond conservation and conservation finance, conservation finance offers tools and approaches that may help to address or prevent further inequity.
During the coronavirus pandemic, close-to-home parks took on a whole new importance. They were where we turned for exercise, fresh air, and a respite from anxiety. But in many communities, parks are too few and far between, unwelcoming, rundown, or unsafe. Just as America’s great outdoors have never been more in demand than they are during the pandemic, the consequences of park inequities—for our health, climate resilience, and prosperity—have never been more acute. COVID-19 is a wake-up call: the time to address the long-standing gaps in outdoor access and quality has come. But there’s good news! Congress set an impressive record in last year’s budget - $125 million in funding for the creation and redevelopment of local parks, schoolyards, trails and open space through the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership program (ORLP). These funds target underserved communities in cities with a population over 50,000 people. This is a major win for equitable access to nature. Come learn how ORLP grants work, how to write a successful proposal and what an additional $500 million in local parks funding through the Parks, Jobs and Equity Act could mean for access to nature across the country.
As the human and financial cost of climate change continues to rise, governments are setting ambitious targets to stem greenhouse gas emissions. It has become clear that these climate targets cannot be met without the protection, restoration and sustainable use of nature and biodiversity. Grasslands store high levels of carbon in their soils, but a significant fraction is being lost through conversion to cropland or overgrazing. Avoiding the conversion of grassland to cropland can help reduce carbon emissions. The good news is protecting grasslands keeps that carbon in the ground and provides numerous other benefits to native plants, wildlife and water quality. Carbon markets can help finance the protection of grasslands and soil carbon, creating a new source of revenue for landowners engaged in sustainable management and conservation of natural and working lands. For land trusts, the carbon markets can help raise revenue to pay for land acquisition, conservation easements and stewardship.
In 2020, the Land Trust Alliance and The Climate Trust launched a partnership to increase funding available to land trusts for grassland and ranchland conservation easement acquisitions using up-front carbon payments and the development of grassland carbon offset projects. Come learn about why grasslands are so special, how grassland carbon offset project work and how this partnership may be able to help your land trust fund easement or in-fee acquisitions.
The social justice movement and worsening climate impacts require land organizations to re-think traditional approaches to land conservation planning. We will highlight innovative work on a statewide and local level to envision and implement a new paradigm in land programs. The Resilient Lands Initiative is an 18 month effort by a diversity of partners to develop a statewide land conservation plan for Massachusetts. A 40-person steering committee considered 9 “land values” including traditional values like habitat, farms, forests and water and added values such as helping people with climate impacts, supporting communities and local economies, supporting traditional Native American cultural values and improving public health in Environmental Justice communities. We reached beyond traditional partners to include public health, urban community groups and conducted 14 virtual focus groups that reached 270 people to include volunteers, farmers, foresters and advocates. This collaborative work is based on many years of regular planning between land trust and state staff highlighted by an annual overnight planning retreat. While the RLI process proceeded, MassAudubon, one of Massachusetts largest land conservation organizations began re-imagining its priorities with a similar lens in its new “Action Agenda” that includes creating new urban sanctuaries and focusing expanded conservation on resilience spaces that help both people and habitat. This effort was guided by a new statewide “resilience” mapping layer. Groundwork Lawrence will bring these statewide visions to the neighborhood level highlighting GWL’s community-led initiatives for tree planting, growing local food, creating new parks and greenspaces and providing affordable housing.
Land trusts are an increasingly popular and proven mechanism to protect private lands, create climate resiliency in protected areas, and conserve wildlife within these habitats. In light of a 2019 paper in the journal Science that finds a net population loss of almost three billion birds since 1970, supporting the efforts of land trusts with implementation of practices on private lands can make a significant difference. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology believes land trusts can help birds, and birds can benefit land trusts. This workshop will introduce the Cornell Land Trust Bird Conservation Initiative and how its various resources can help foster partnerships and reach diverse audiences. We will teach about birding tools such as eBird, introduce a grant program, and showcase success stories from Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy and the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast – all illustrating how birds can be useful in making decisions about your conservation investments, engage new and diverse communities, and accelerate and amplify conservation and land stewardship on land trust properties and easements.
Community-based conservation models can infuse the identity and voice of neighborhoods into our riverfronts as a strategy to provide equitable access to long, connected stretches of clean, living, inviting rivers that run through our towns and cities. People’s pride and connection to lands and waters builds stronger advocates to steward and protect these places. Especially in underserved areas, facilitating community-led land acquisition, restoration and programming strategies can open opportunities for government agencies and municipalities to invest in and assist our most vulnerable populations to become more resilient to climate change, and to improve water quality and quality of life in places that historically have born the greatest brunt of pollution. This model is paired with development of heritage water trails, such as the African American Heritage Water Trail in Chicago’s south side, which highlights nationally significant history in one of the birthplaces of the environmental justice movement. The water trail highlights and promotes the activities and activism of local community groups, from whom the stores for the brochure were collected. Our goals are for participants to identify how they can incorporate community-driven acquisition, restoration, programming, and water trails strategies to improve river access, river health, resiliency, and equity in areas where they work. More broadly, Rally members will brainstorm how this kind of model can integrate lands and waters in populated areas – especially our underserved communities - into our strategies to adapt to and mitigate climate change, and conserve 30% of our lands and waters by 2030.
Heart of the Rockies Initiative (HOTR) is a partnership of land trusts across the Rocky Mountain West. Over the years, HOTR has come to appreciate the inextricable link between the health of the communities that dot the landscape and successful land stewardship. The conservation movement has raised a similar awareness of the need to denounce the myth of a landscape unoccupied or void of human occupation and influence. In order to embrace the interconnectedness between people and the landscape, in 2019, HOTR set out to evaluate what added value conservation organizations, and land trusts in particular, could offer local communities looking the sustain or grow their community infrastructure and transition their local economies. The HOTR Program has assisted local leaders in accessing state, federal, and private funding, to carry out community planning and infrastructure projects relating to outdoor recreation, community health and safety, revitalization, and food security. HOTR has observed that frontier communities often lack the capacity to make their community visions a reality and that there is a host of ways land trusts can be a trusted partner in community economic development.
No that’s not a typo! Your land trust must be alive and thriving in the 22nd century. The climate crisis, population pressure and ecological stress will dominate life, and your work will be needed more than ever. But your promise of perpetual protection will be tested, and the odds are high that many current land trusts will not survive that long. This interactive session will define a framework for longevity and actions land trust leaders can take to shape an organization to persist and thrive through decades of change. Strategic planning for the long-haul requires attention not just to conservation goals, but also your financial structure, organizational culture, management and governance practice. Only by being intentional in all of these areas can an organization be built to last. We’ll take a close look at key financial metrics and a practical approach to building a strong stewardship reserve fund. We’ll explore four essential characteristics of successful nonprofit organizational cultures. And we’ll detail five habits that will support resilience and longevity, all of which your land trust can begin practicing in the next year. Each of these changes can ripple through time, making land trust leaders’ legacy a truly multi-generational enterprise.
The Fundación Tierra Austral (FTA) is the most prominent land trust in Chile and one of the prominent private land conservation organizations functioning outside the US. FTA is pioneering the use of Chile's breakthrough law, the Derecho Real de Conservación (DRC), which is the Chilean equivalent of the conservation easement, adapted to the Napoleonic legal system. After years of hard work and planning, FTA is now protecting land throughout the country using DRC agreements. It is also building a respected international Board of Directors, creating financial incentives for private conservation, exploring forest carbon projects and industrial mitigation offsets, and increasing awareness about the critical importance of private lands conservation among a diverse range of stakeholders. This presentation by FTA staff and board members will offer an informative and inspiring glimpse at the world of land trusts outside the US.
Rapidly increasing the pace of land conversation to address climate change requires accelerated land protection: thousands of acres must be saved, and millions of dollars raised. To address today’s challenges in a rapid and inclusive way, fundraisers will need to move quickly – but how can your land trust move ahead while still having in place everything needed before launching a successful campaign? Is your land trust ready? How does a campaign roll out? Embarking on a campaign can be daunting, especially for smaller sized land trusts, but with careful planning, clear communication, execution, and the right donor engagement strategy, anything is possible! This Case Study Session examines how Indian River Land Trust (IRLT), a small, coastal land trust in Vero Beach, FL embarked on a $10 million campaign that reached new levels of giving in just ten months over two short fundraising seasons. Join Ken Grudens, IRLT Executive Director, Christine Walker, IRLT Director of Marketing & Philanthropy, Tim Nurvala, CCS Senior Vice President, and Hollis Hunt, CCS Senior Director, as they discuss how the campaign for Indian River Land Trust became so successful, even amid the challenges of a global pandemic. Further, CCS and IRLT leaders will help you make sure you are ready, set, and can go generate significant support for your conservation efforts.
Join NRCS national Easement Programs Division staff to learn more about our “other” easement programs including Wetland Reserve Easements, the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership, Emergency Watershed Program and the Healthy Forests Reserve Program. Goals of this session will be to educate land trust partners on other easement options NRCS has available outside ALE. How to identify potential sites where these easements might be a good fit and how to consider them in your overall easement planning process with the landowners.
Landmark Conservancy in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and Gathering Waters have established an ambitious goal of focusing our land protection efforts on large tracts of land with high levels of climate resilience. Learn first-hand how a medium-size regional land trust utilized NIACS Vision sessions, The Nature Conservancy's Resilient and Connected Lands analyses, and a standard GIS dashboard to filter and prioritize large land tracts for protection. Learn how we used this approach to enhance strategic partnerships and launch innovative targeted landowner outreach with a goal of building a climate resilient landscape in Northern Wisconsin and beyond!
Communities across America are struggling with the impacts of a changing climate: increasingly severe storms, sea level rise, wildfires, heat waves, droughts, and myriad public health challenges. Climate change hits hardest in low-income areas and communities of color, the neighborhoods that are least equipped to respond. To that end, new investments in climate need to be directed to those places that will feel the greatest impact. Land trusts and local governments have an important role to play in creating new local funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Ballot measures to generate funding for these purposes are a critically important tool. In 2020, voters approved 51 of 55 ballot measures -- a 93 percent passage rate -- creating nearly $1.8 billion for new parks, water quality protection, natural areas, and climate in 23 states. One of those measures was Measure 2A in Denver, a quarter-cent sales tax that will provide $800 million to fund a wide range of climate initiatives. 2A is one of the first significant climate funding actions taken by a major American city and is an important blueprint for other local governments across the country. Land trusts have been involved in many of these successful ballot measures, developing their advocacy chops and, in some cases, truly transforming their organizations. This workshop provides land trusts with the tools needed to lead or support ballot measures. Learn how Denver successfully took their case to the voters to create new funding to address climate change in an equitable manner.
This session serves as an introduction for land trusts to use the concept of climate resilience in land protection and stewardship. Most land trusts periodically complete a strategic plan, which includes an analysis and subjective list of priority parcels for protection in their service area. In this session, you will learn how to let climate resilience guide planning and implementation more objectively. Geared for (and taught by) both land protection and stewardship staff, we will cover the genesis and development of a service area-wide strategic conservation plan. Our most ambitious planning effort to date, this process involved not only staff and consultants, but volunteers, board members, and valued community partners. In the second half of the presentation, we will share a collaborative stewardship project in the implementation stage - from pixels on a map to a hands-on project. This project with five partner organizations used restoration of forest communities as the focal system for climate adaptation and future resilience. This geographic area in the Midwest, known as the "tension zone," is the historical delineation between southern and northern species, driven by climate. This landscape and set of partnerships make an ideal setting for exploring issues of assisted migration of tree species, reforestation, forest pests, and restoration genetics. For land trusts that have not yet engaged in organization-wide climate resilience planning, this session will teach you why climate resilience is a useful filter for prioritizing projects and getting them done. Furthermore, it provides examples and inspiration to move from talk on climate change to on-the-ground action.
All 50 states have adopted some form of a Recreational Use Act that provide qualified immunity for premises liability to landowners of outdoor recreation land. The acts vary in scope and applicability, but typically cover fee-simple land owned by a land trust and managed for public recreation. These acts are powerful tools for attorneys representing land trusts in premises liability cases, and they are an important incentive for private landowners to keep their land available for outdoor recreation. This session will discuss the reasons why these acts were passed, the common differences in scope and applicability between the states, and which activities are commonly included by or excluded from these acts.
The COVID pandemic brought unprecedented challenges for community engagement in land conservation, chief among them the inability to bring people to protected lands. Yet many of the solutions developed to overcome COVID can continue to be leveraged to increase accessibility to protected lands, adapt to the effects of climate change, and continue protecting our critical natural resources. By the nature of our work, we protect the most vulnerable and sensitive habitats in the world that are often threatened by overuse from increased access. During this session, participants will hear what we learned from the 2020 pivot to virtual programs, and the methods we developed for reducing barriers and increasing inclusivity, in addition to ideas for future applications that will preserve conservation values while advancing community engagement goals. Presenters represent a diversity of organizational structures, sizes, missions, and strategies, but all have experienced significant success in virtual conservation programs with noted increases in equitable access. Attendees will also learn about a funder’s priorities and shifts to accommodate virtual programs, an environmental education and stewardship organization’s effort to expand accessibility, and a land trust’s foray into virtual hikes and school field trips all through immersive multimedia videos, photos, and storytelling. At the end of the presentation, a resource handout will be provided with quick tips, practical advice, and best practices for anyone to implement or improve their own virtual programs.
It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Yet that’s exactly what we do with our boards. We use the same old processes for recruiting board members, but are then disappointed when our new board members are no more connected, influential, diverse, or committed than the ones that they replace. We have long discussions, we develop matrices, we leverage our networks, and in the end, we ask the same kinds of people to join our boards. This session asks you to break free from that pattern! Using case studies from two recent board transformation processes at Outdoor Afro and the Outdoor Industry Association, we share a new model for board recruitment that will enhance your board and generate dramatically new results for your organization. We will share actions that you will be able to implement immediately to begin transforming your board.
Our society is shifting as rapidly as our environment. What is clear is that the way forward is to prioritize more inclusive approaches in our collaborations. Diversity is essential if we want to realize the full value of what it means to work together on our most pressing issues. We have a lot to learn and act upon if we want to understand our challenges from a 360-degree lens.
Dialogue is the heart of collaboration. It allows us to come together, not just to solve a problem, but to learn from each other in ways that foster new outcomes. To get to quality dialogue we must understand the way that bias enters into our collaborative initiatives, build a culture that allows us to recognize and mitigate it, and learn processes that help us to engage with others with different values, lived experiences, and views of the challenges that we face.
This session illuminates what's at risk for the future without the inclusion of new and underrepresented voices. It helps us to understand the evolutionary nature of bias and how to evolve our thinking -- individually and collectively -- to include all perspectives. And it offers a dialogue method that creates expansive ways of tapping into the wisdom of a group.
Unauthorized division of property is a growing concern for many land trusts as easements mature and properties are passed down or sold to successor landowners. This session will address some of the less-obvious conservation easement threats that can arise from property subdivision and provide some real-life examples of why it is so essential for land trusts to include comprehensive provisions in conservation easements to prevent divisions, maintain open lines of communication with landowners, and have processes in place to monitor land ownership and property transfers.
The Healthy Watersheds Consortium, a partnership of the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was designed to accelerate the protection of watershed lands across the U.S. among like-minded partners from all levels of government, organizations and industry to support individual watershed protection projects through grants, using leveraged funding from government and non-government sources together. Within the Great Lakes Region, the program has increased the capacity for on-the-ground watershed protection through four unique watershed partnerships and innovative land protection and funding mechanisms. Great Lakes Region watershed protection implementers will share stories about their individual and collective efforts to protect healthy watersheds. Stories may feature: compelling strategic watershed protection visions with metrics, partnerships with water utilities and local governments, use of land use planning to augment on-the-ground land protection, innovative funding mechanisms and revolving protection fund development, watershed financing partnerships, and exploration of other tools and programs. Fitting within the “water” Rally theme for 2021, the session presenters will describe how their work supports millions of water users, prevents nonpoint source pollution, has been enhanced through diverse partnerships, and how this could be replicated in other regions.
In an increasingly crowded media environment, crafting and delivering messages that can break through the clutter and reach their intended audience has become increasingly challenging. This is especially true for many non-profit organizations, which simply don't have the resources to compete with better-funded corporations. This session is designed to illustrate how a combination of relatively inexpensive social media research, well-designed content and effective and highly targeted delivery through digital media can help organizations more effectively communicate their message to key audiences. To illustrate this concept in practice, US Nature4Climate will present a case study focusing on two campaigns we are conducting in 2021 -- one focusing on the economic benefits of Natural Climate Solutions, and the other focusing on the climate impacts of the 30x30 initiative. We will demonstrate how social media listening research helped us understand the online conversation around these issues to aid us in developing an effective message, and ultimately target that message to the most engaged and influential voices in the debate. We will then discuss how we used this guidance to develop content, including videos, infographics, story development, blog posts and fact sheets to communicate that message. We will provide insight on the tools available to micro-target messaging through social media, as well as free tools organizations can use to get their message out. Finally, we will hear from a US Nature4Climate partner who will discuss how these practices have helped support their own organization's communications and advocacy efforts.