Preserving Open Land with Conservation Easements

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The Hudson Valley is a treasured landscape that has undergone tremendous change over the past century. This forum explores how science-based stewardship on private land can help protect and promote healthy forests and open spaces, now and for future generations.

Presentations explore threats our forests and natural areas face – from invasive species and climate change to deer overabundance – and actions that can be taken on a site-by-site basis to optimize conditions. A special focus will be given to the overlap between sport hunting and conservation communities, with a roundtable discussion on advancing common ground. Hosted April 12, 2014 at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies

Presentation Part II by: Becky Thornton, Dutchess Land Conservancy

Published in: Environment, Technology
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  • Acres as of April 25,2013
  • Preserving Open Land with Conservation Easements

    1. 1. Preserving Open Land with Conservation Easements Sustainable Stewardship: Maintaining Value in Hudson Valley Landscapes Workshop Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies & DLC
    2. 2. About Dutchess Land Conservancy
    3. 3. Helps protect our working farms…… Our wetland habitats… . Our intact forests…. Our unparallel scenic views…. And our fragile water resources. Dutchess Land Conservancy Photos by Pat Ike
    4. 4. New York Land Trusts According to the 2010 National Land Trust Census Report, between 2005 & 2010: Land Trusts in NY have protected almost 1 million acres:  97 Land Trusts operating in NY  57 have staff – 23 are all-volunteer  70,000 members & supporters Nationally:  Over 1,600 land trusts across the country  According to the LTA - 10 million acres has been conserved by nonprofit land trusts from 2005-2010.
    5. 5.  National Organizations:  American Farmland Trust  The Nature Conservancy  Trust for Public Land  Statewide Organizations:  New York Audubon  Regional Organizations:  Open Space Institute  Scenic Hudson County/Local Organizations:  Dutchess Land Conservancy  Columbia Land Conservancy  Hudson Highlands Land Trust  Naromi Land Trust  Oblong Land Conservancy  Winnakee Land Trust A Variety of Conservation Orgs.
    6. 6. Why Protect Land?
    7. 7. To protect resources that benefit the public:  Farmland – Food & fiber – one of the largest industries in NY  Forest Land – Clean air, unfragmented wildlife habitats, carbon sequestration, forest products  Ecosystems – Just beginning to understand significance of healthy ecosystems  Water Resources – Wetlands, watercourses, lakes, reservoirs, aquifers – clean drinking water; flood/storm protection  Scenic Views – Quality of life; rural character; tourism  Recreation/Parks - Public access to outdoors - healthy lifestyles; fun and enjoyment; outdoor education  Historical Significance  Statewide, Regional or Local Significance Why Protect Land?
    8. 8. Local Protection
    9. 9. 0 10000 20000 30000 40000 1985 1995 2005 2012 Acres Year Land Protected Over Time
    10. 10. D utchess Land C onservancy C onservation E asem ents 0 5 10 Miles DL C C onservation Easem ent 1985 247 Acres P rotected HudsonRiver D utche ss Land C onse rvanc y C onserv ation E as em ents 0 5 10 Miles DL C C onservation E asem ent HudsonRiver 1990 4,239 Acres Protected D utche ss Land C onse rvanc y C onserv ation E as em ents HudsonRiver 0 5 10 Miles DL C C onservation E asem ent 1995 6,885 Acres Protected 2000 14,735 Acres Protected DL C C onservation E asem ent 0 5 10 Miles HudsonRiver D utche ss Land C onse rvanc y C onserv ation E as em ents 1985 247 acres 1990 4,239 acres 1995 6,885 acres 2000 14,735 acres
    11. 11. 2010 - 32,500 acres2005 - 23,026 acres
    12. 12. Our Work
    13. 13.  Purchase Land  Purchase Conservation Easements/Development Rights (PDR)  Accept Donations of Conservation Easements Land Conservation Options The most popular and widely used tool for protecting private land across the United States is the Conservation Easement.
    14. 14. Commonly Asked Questions about Conservation Easements
    15. 15.  Why would a landowner want to place a Conservation Easement on their property?  Loves/cares about their land.  Cares about the community and values rural character – its why they live there.  Understands why the land is important – recreation/health, fresh food, clean air & water.  Wants to give a gift to the future/leave a legacy.  Is not interested in developing the land anyway.  Wants to realize some equity without having to sell some or all of the land (if sell CE).  Potential income tax benefits.  State tax credit for property taxes paid.  Potential estate tax benefits.  May be a requirement of zoning in exchange for increased density or other benefit . Common Questions
    16. 16.  What is a Conservation Easement?  If a landowner sells/gives an Easement does he still own and control his property?  Does a Conservation Easement require a Landowner to allow public access?  To whom is a Conservation Easement given/sold?  What is the difference between a Conservation Easement and a Deed Restriction?  Can a Landowner sell/donate an Easement and still develop his land? Common Questions
    17. 17.  What are the financial and/or tax advantages of selling/donating an Easement?  Do Conservation Easements allow land management such as timber harvests and farming?  Is it difficult to sell a Property with a Conservation Easement on it?  How is a Conservation Easement enforced?  If we want to consider a Conservation Easement, what do we do? Who do we approach? Common Questions
    18. 18. The Process
    19. 19.  Initial meeting and site visit.  Determine Landowner's future goals for the property.  Resource analysis.  Optional land planning.  Determine easement terms with landowner/draft easement.  Appraisal to determine value.  Consensus on value.  Seek funding (if applicable.)  Board approval by org.  Easement closing/filing on county/town records – runs with the land.  Easement Stewardship – annual monitoring , landowner relationships, and enforcement (if necessary.) The Easement Process
    20. 20. Evaluating Resources
    21. 21. Determining Resources Ag. Land •Prime and Important Farmland soils •Agricultural Districts, active agricultural parcels •Critical mass Water Resources •Wetlands (State, Locally, Regionally, Nationally designated) •Stream corridors, water bodies, rivers •Aquifers •Important watersheds/watersheds key to public water supply Forest Land/Habitat •Productive forests •Intact forests •Significant natural resource areas •Significant habitats Visually Significant •Major scenic vistas/viewsheds •Ridgelines Recreation •Important recreational lands •Trail networks Local , Regional, State &/or Historical Significance •Land protected by others (national, state, county, local, other conservation groups) •Open space identified in local, county master plans or open space plans or has important historical significance.
    22. 22. Evaluating Resources
    23. 23. Evaluating Resources
    24. 24. Evaluating Resources
    25. 25. Meeting with the Landowner and Coming to Consensus  What are my goals for the land?  What do I care about most?  How do I want to use my land? (Farming, forestry, natural state, recreation…)  Do I have financial considerations? (Should I retain future subdivision options?)  Children/family considerations?  Estate planning considerations?
    26. 26. Board Approval
    27. 27. Accepting the responsibility for permanent conservation easements requires the perpetual exercise of management and oversight duties. Easement Stewardship
    28. 28. Obligations of the Holder of a Conservation Easement What is Easement Stewardship?
    29. 29. Example 1 - Developing a Plan for the Property
    30. 30. What Makes Sense? 100 Acre property +
    31. 31. Resources: • soils/ag. land • streams/wetlands • woodlands/ habitat/steep slopes
    32. 32. Other Considerations - Siting: Non- crestline. Avoid siting in the middle of a farm field. Buffer from water body. Avoid fragmentation of forestland.
    33. 33. 9 Lot Plan – Allowed under Zoning
    34. 34. Goal – Retain house sites for my 2 children: 3 Lot Plan with a conservation easement on 100 acres.
    35. 35. Goal – Retain house sites for my 2 children: 2 Lot Plan with a conservation easement on 100 acres.
    36. 36. What if you are a town facing a development proposal? - 9 Lot Plan allowed under Zoning
    37. 37. Goal – Development - 9 Lot Plan –CE on 42 acres of OS held by HOA or SFHO Lot 7 8 Acres Lot 8 5 Acres Lot 9 6 Acres OPEN SPACE – 42 ACRES Owned by a HOA or as part of a single lot combined with either Lot 7, 8, or 9
    38. 38. Goal – Development - 6 Lot “Flex” Plan – CE on Open Space owned by HOA
    39. 39. More Examples
    40. 40. Example 2 – Competing resources - weighing your options.
    41. 41. Resource Analysis
    42. 42. 16 Lots
    43. 43. Landowner goal – 3 Lots
    44. 44. Landowner goal – 1 Lot
    45. 45. Conflicting Resource Protection Goals
    46. 46. Goal – Protect the wetlands and habitat areas.
    47. 47. Goal – Protect the scenic view and prime farm soils.
    48. 48. Example 3 – 620 ac. BCS
    49. 49. Resources Soils Water Slopes Habitat
    50. 50. Composite So How do We Strike a Balance?
    51. 51. Composite Between Human Use & Resource Protection? Uses: • Recreational • Forestry • Agricultural • Residential • Future Residential • Educational • Scientific Research
    52. 52. Composite & Also Maintain Value?
    53. 53. In Conclusion Its about making choices… planning for the future of our land… …by balancing a landowner’s needs with protecting what’s most important…forever.
    54. 54. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller
    55. 55. DLC is lucky to have great support from its members, local towns, and the community. We appreciate the opportunity to let you know more about us. Dutchess Land Conservancy P.O. Box 138 4289 Route 82 Millbrook, NY 12545 (845) 677-3002 (845) 677-3008 (fax) www.dutchessland.org Thank you!
    56. 56. Example 4 - Planning the future of a property & protecting its most important resources.
    57. 57. A 210-acre property
    58. 58. Resource Summary
    59. 59. Planning Map
    60. 60. Visual Assessment
    61. 61. Zoning
    62. 62. Option One 42 Lots – 3+ ac. each Conventional Subdivision
    63. 63. Conventional Subdivision Resource Overlay Water res. buffer Prime ag. soils Important ag. soils
    64. 64. Conventional Subdivision Water res. buffer Prime ag. soils Important ag. soils Scenic Viewshed Resources and Scenic Views
    65. 65. 12 Lot Plan 50 ac. Farm Parcel 8 smaller lots (6.4 ac.+) 3 large lots (18.6 - 48 ac.)
    66. 66. 12 Lot Plan Water res.buffer Prime ag. soils Important ag. soils Resource Overlay
    67. 67. 12 Lot Plan Water res.buffer Prime ag. soils Important ag. soils Scenic Viewshed Resources & Scenic Views
    68. 68. 8 Lot Plan Water res.buffer Prime ag. soils Important ag. soils Scenic Viewshed Resources & Scenic Views
    69. 69. 5 Lot Plan 5 Large Lots & potential CE
    70. 70. 5 Lot Plan Water res.buffer Prime ag. soils Important ag. soils Scenic Viewshed Resources & Scenic Views
    71. 71. 3 Lot Plan 3 Large Lots & potential CE
    72. 72. 3 Lot Plan Water res.buffer Prime ag. soils Important ag. soils Scenic Viewsheds Resources & Scenic Views
    73. 73. In Conclusion Its about making choices… planning for the future of our land… …by balancing a landowner’s needs with protecting what’s most important…forever.
    74. 74. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller
    75. 75. DLC is lucky to have great support from its members, local towns, and the community. We appreciate the opportunity to let you know more about us. Dutchess Land Conservancy P.O. Box 138 4289 Route 82 Millbrook, NY 12545 (845) 677-3002 (845) 677-3008 (fax) www.dutchessland.org Thank you!

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