The Land Evaluation and Site Assessment (LESA) system helps state and local officials make sound decisions about land use. Combined with Forest measures and Rangeland parameters, LESA can provide a technical framework to numerically rank land parcels based on local resource evaluation and site considerations. In agricultural land evaluation, soils are rated and placed into groups ranging from the best to the least suited for a specific agricultural use, such as cropland, forestland, or rangeland. Then, a relative value is determined for each group. For example, the best group may be assigned a value of 100, while all other groups are assigned lower values. The land evaluation is based on data from the National Cooperative Soil Survey—often called the largest and most valuable natural resource database in the world.
[More Information at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/lesa/.]
A nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land, in the public interest, through land transactions - primarily the purchase or acceptance of donations of land or conservation easements. Most land trusts are private charitable corporations. Some land trusts are governmental or quasi-governmental agencies that operate with much of the flexibility and freedom of a private land trust.
"An independent, voluntary program of the Land Trust Alliance, applicants for land trust accreditation must demonstrate compliance with a set of accreditation indicator practices selected from Land Trust Standards and Practices. These practices are designated by the Land Trust Alliance and indicate a land trust’s ability to operate in an ethical, legal and technically sound manner and ensure the long-term protection of land in the public interest.
Indicator practices are chosen based on the following criteria: responsible governance of the organization, protection of the public interest with sound and sustainable land transactions and stewardship, ethical operations, accountability to donors and the public, compliance with all laws, such as IRC §170(h) and §501(c)(3)." [http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org]
The Land Trust Standards & Practices are the operational and technical guidelines to assist land trusts in managing sustainable and effective organizations through sound legal and ethical means. These fundamental guidelines are intended to support land trusts in building a stronger, principled organizational structure and developing effective conservation and stewardship programs in the public interest. These guidelines were developed by the Land Trust Alliance at the urging of land trusts, believing a strong land trust community depends on the credibility and effectiveness of all its members. The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association strongly encourages all organizations that acquire land or easements for conservation purposes to adopt Standards & Practices as their guiding principles and work towards bringing their operations into accord with them.
In conservation easement work: A written description of the preoperty boundaries or easement boundaries that is part of the deed. [Source: Elizabeth Byers and Karin Marchetti Ponti, The Conservation Easement Handbook, Published by the Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance, 2005.]
Less than full ownership of all the legal rights associated with a property. A conservation easement is a less-than-fee interest. See "fee simple" [Source: Elizabeth Byers and Karin Marchetti Ponti, The Conservation Easement Handbook, Published by the Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance, 2005.]
In the context of land conservation methods, in a limited development project, a land trust acquires a piece of property and opens a portion of the property to development in order to help finance the original acquisition and the permanent protection of the remainder of the property. The conservation organization may simply subdivide the property into two parcels and sell one to a developer who will further subdivide, or the organization may take a more active role in the development of the property. Limited development can be complex, time-consuming, controversial and financially risky. A land trust must be very cautious, well informed, and have good access to variety of experts in the real estate and development fields before taking on such a project.
Less than maximum development of a parcel for the purpose of enabling conservation of remaining portions of the parcel. [source: Glossary of Conservation Terms, Ridge and Valley Conservancy, Inc., http://www.rvclandtrust.org]
A rental agreement for a specific period of time. In land conservation work, this can be a good option for someone who is not willing to permanently sell land or place a conservation easement on it, but is willing to have it managed for conservation purposes. It allows unrestricted and exclusive use by the leasing agency. It is not a charitable donation and may affect the property value for estate tax purposes. [Source: Landowner Options, Land Conservancy of North Kingstown, http://www.lcnk.org/lcnkPage.cfm?sec=17&opt=0#cov]