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Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program

A Pennsylvania Tool for Preserving Farmland

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program enables state and county governments to purchase conservation easements on productive farms. The easements protect the farmland from non-agricultural development.

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Apr 26, 2017
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Agricultural Protection Zoning

Agricultural Protection Zoning (APZ) preserves the availability of agricultural lands for farming and thus the agricultural base of the community by constraining non-agricultural development and land uses in designated areas.

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Dec 01, 2013
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13746 times

Agricultural Security Areas

Protecting Farms from Condemnation and Unreasonably Restrictive Ordinances

Within an agricultural security area (ASA), a farm is entitled to special protection from condemnation and laws and ordinances that would unreasonably restrict farming operations. Local governments in Pennsylvania may establish ASAs but only in response to petitions from landowners interested in enrolling their land in an ASA.

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Apr 26, 2017
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Amending and Restating Grants of Conservation Easement

Best Practices to Document Changes

If a land trust intends to amend a grant of conservation easement, implementation of the changes requires careful planning and drafting. The consequences of a poor execution range from missed opportunities to improve easement stewardship to inadvertent elimination of conservation protections.

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Apr 26, 2017
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2429 times

Amending Grants of Conservation Easement

Legal Considerations for Land Trusts

This guide informs easement holders of legal matters to consider under Pennsylvania law and the Internal Revenue Code when making decisions regarding the amendment of grants of conservation easement.

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Apr 22, 2016
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3494 times

An Introduction to Stewardship Funding Arrangements

Alternatives for Landowners to Help Holders Meet Conservation Easement Obligations

A landowner may agree to one or more funding arrangements that require the landowner or successive owners of an eased property to make one or more payments to the easement holder to support stewardship of the property. These arrangements may be customized to fit the stewardship demands created by the particular conservation easement and the financial circumstances of the owner.

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Jul 24, 2015
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10182 times

A Scientific Foundation for Shaping Riparian Buffer Protection Regulations

Extensive scientific research documents that vegetated strips of land along water bodies provide extensive water quality and other environmental benefits. The science shows that development should be kept away from the water’s edge, wider protected strips provide greater benefits, forested buffers are more effective than grassy ones, and forested buffers in headwaters provide the greatest benefits of all.

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Jun 05, 2014
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3472 times

Authorization of Real Estate Transactions

Rules and Process for Nonprofits

Within the bounds of state law and private standards of practice, a nonprofit organization has considerable flexibility in establishing policies and procedures regarding the authorization of real estate transactions.

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Mar 17, 2015
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8427 times

Biodiversity

Biodiversity encompasses the diversity of life – the varying and different species, genes and ecosystems of the Earth. The ongoing loss of biodiversity threatens human well-being and makes the need for conservation ever more pressing.

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Nov 04, 2013
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7117 times

Bird Research and Conservation

Initiatives in Pennsylvania and on a national level promote the study of bird populations and the protection of their habitat.

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Mar 01, 2017
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5436 times

Bridge Loans for Conservation Purchases

Borrowing from Revolving Loan Funds

Low and no interest, short-term loans are available to help nonprofit organizations complete land and easement purchases for conservation purposes.

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Sep 18, 2014
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4458 times

Build-Out Analysis

Projecting the Impact of Current Law on Future Development

A build-out analysis projects the development that could occur in an area under current law. It enables a community to test the reality of its development regulations against its vision for its future.

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May 24, 2017
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7066 times

Clean and Green

Pennsylvania's Preferential Tax Assessment Program

Clean and Green, established by the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act, provides for lower property tax assessments of land capable of producing agricultural products and timber or providing open space for public use.

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Apr 26, 2017
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23693 times

Closing

Finalizing the Real Estate Transaction

At closing, the transfer of the real estate interest, whether land or easement, is completed. This guide helps users organize and expedite the closing.

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Nov 15, 2013
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Collaborative Opportunities for Land Trusts

Many types of collaborative approaches are available to help advance land conservation.

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Jan 21, 2014
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5880 times

Commission-Based Compensation for Fundraising

Commission-based compensation for fundraising by staff and consultants, although legal, is widely viewed as a bad practice for nonprofits.

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Apr 27, 2017
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45293 times

Community Visioning

Community visioning is a planning tool that enables residents, business owners, local institutions, and other stakeholders to have a voice in the decision-making process in their community. A community visioning statement will communicate the goals and priorities of the community and ideally inform future planning documents, regulations, and future development.

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Jul 18, 2012
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11225 times

CommunityViz®

CommunityViz® software enables users to see what different land use and development scenarios would look like if they were to actually occur. It allows users to create hypothetical scenarios and assess the economic, environmental, social, and visual impacts of those scenarios.

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Apr 26, 2017
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6199 times

Conservation Easement

A Property Rights Based Tool for Resource Protection

A conservation easement limits certain uses on a property in order to advance specified conservation purposes while keeping the land in the owner’s ownership and control.

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Aug 30, 2015
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12348 times

Conservation Easements

An Introduction for Private Landowners

A conservation easement limits certain uses of the land in order to accomplish expressly identified conservation objectives while keeping the land in the owner’s control. It is established by mutual agreement of a landowner and a private land trust or government.

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Apr 26, 2017
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832 times

Conservation Referendum

A conservation referendum enables citizens of a local municipality to vote to establish a dedicated tax for open space protection. It also enables citizens to approve borrowing beyond normal debt limits by counties or local municipalities for conservation projects.

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Jan 30, 2012
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8688 times

Cost of Community Services Studies

Cost of Community Services studies examine both the tax revenues generated by different land uses and the costs to local government of providing services to those same uses. They help people understand the fiscal consequences of keeping land in agriculture or as open space versus developing land for other purposes.

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Apr 26, 2017
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Costs of Conservation Easement Stewardship

The holder of a conservation easement must monitor the eased property to confirm compliance with conservation restrictions and, when necessary, take action to uphold the conservation objectives of the easement. These and other stewardship activities result in costs, year in and year out, to the holder.

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Feb 13, 2015
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14551 times

Costs of Due Diligence in Conservation Acquisitions

To responsibly accomplish a conservation easement or land acquisition, due diligence is necessary. This guide describes the costs incurred by land trusts and agricultural land preservation boards in completing surveys, baseline documentation, appraisals, title search and insurance, phase 1 environmental assessments and legal services in support of conservation acquisitions.

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Mar 08, 2017
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7495 times

Creating Sustainable Community Parks

This guide focuses on sustainable land management, which devotes more attention to the natural resources in the design of different land uses, and enhances the livability of our communities.

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Oct 16, 2013
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18764 times

Delineation of Conservation Easements

Rules and Practices for Identifying External and Internal Boundaries

COMING IN 2017

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Sep 21, 2016
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445 times

Development Threat Analysis

A development threat analysis identifies undeveloped lands that are most likely to be developed within a specific time frame. Information is presented in map form.

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Jun 27, 2017
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5297 times

Donation by Will

Options and Issues Regarding Gifts of Cash, Land, and Other Property

Donors who want to help a worthy charity but also need to ensure that they have sufficient assets to live comfortably until life's end may choose to make some gifts via their wills.

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Apr 26, 2017
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Economic Benefits of Biodiversity

Economic impact studies document the many and substantial economic benefits generated by biodiversity. This guide identifies major studies, summarizes key findings of each and provides hyperlinks to the studies.

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Jun 30, 2015
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85819 times

Economic Benefits of Land Conservation

The conservation of natural lands and of working farms and forests can generate financial returns, both to governments and individuals, and create significant cost savings.

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Apr 27, 2017
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20535 times

Economic Benefits of Parks

Economic impact studies document the many and substantial economic benefits generated by parks. This guide identifies major studies, summarizes key findings of each and provides hyperlinks to the studies.

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Apr 27, 2017
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12641 times

Economic Benefits of Smart Growth and Costs of Sprawl

Sprawling patterns of development create heavy economic burdens -- problems, costs and liabilities far in excess of the benefits. Conversely, smart growth strategies can enhance economic vitality.

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Aug 06, 2014
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9761 times

Economic Benefits of Trails

Economic impact studies document the many and substantial economic benefits generated by trails. This guide identifies major studies, summarizes key findings of each and provides hyperlinks to the studies.

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Oct 08, 2012
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13693 times

Elections and 501(c)3 Organizations

All section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for elective public office. During an election, nonprofits can lobby, provide voter education, encourage voter registration and participation, and participate in issue advocacy if these are done in a nonpartisan way that does not interfere, or appear to interfere, with the election

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Mar 22, 2011
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5172 times

Environmental Advisory Council

A municipality's governing body may establish an environmental advisory council to advise the municipality's decision-makers and undertake projects regarding the protection and conservation of natural resources.

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Jun 24, 2015
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4957 times

Farm Preservation Options for Landowners

Features of Government and Private Approaches in Pennsylvania

Fifty-seven Pennsylvania counties have agricultural land preservation boards that purchase agricultural conservation easements. Sixty-five private charitable organizations accept donations of conservation easements or, less commonly, purchase them. These two paths to farmland preservation differ in many ways.

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Mar 01, 2017
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666 times

From Lawn to Meadow

Protect Water and Provide Habitat While Saving Money

Converting areas covered by turf grass to meadows can be financially rewarding and relatively simple on both public and private land. It can also deliver substantial environmental and aesthetic benefits.

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Apr 26, 2017
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242 times

Gift of a Future Interest in Real Estate

Reserved Life Estates Keep Owners in Control During Their Lifetimes

Landowners can convey a future interest in real property to a conservation organization or government but continue to live on or otherwise enjoy using the property during their lifetimes. If the property is a personal residence or a farm, a donation of a future interest can generate immediate tax benefits.

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Nov 23, 2015
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15617 times

GPS (Global Positioning System)

GPS (the Global Positioning System) can be used freely by anyone almost anywhere near the earth.  GPS enables users to record the location of structures, easement boundaries, where a photograph is taken, and other geographic information useful to conservation. Users can then import this information into computer mapping programs.

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May 05, 2011
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Growing Greener: Conservation by Design

Growing Greener: Conservation By Design helps municipalities and developers build new housing and businesses while protecting important natural and cultural resources. With straightforward changes to municipal ordinances, new subdivisions can leave half (or more) of buildable land as open space while being fair to those seeking to develop their land.

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Sep 07, 2011
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7617 times

Guide to the Conservation and Preservation Easements Act

Pennsylvania Act 29 of 2001

Conservation organizations can avoid many potential difficulties in conservation easement stewardship by ensuring that their conservation easement documents are drafted to conform with the Conservation and Preservation Easements Act.

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Mar 24, 2017
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Holders, Beneficiaries and Backup Grantees

Defining Roles and Relationships to Achieve Conservation Easement Objectives

A conservation easement may have one or more holders responsible for upholding the easement’s conservation objectives. It may have a beneficiary, an entity with some rights to manage the easement in furtherance of the conservation objectives but no responsibility to do so. It may also provide a contingency plan to replace a holder in the event the holder cannot or will not perform its duties. Effective long-term easement management requires that when more than one entity shares easement management rights, the relationship between the entities must be carefully delineated.

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Nov 08, 2013
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Impacts of Natural Land Loss on Water Quality

Forests, riparian buffers, wetlands and other natural lands are essential for the protection of water quality and aquatic habitat.

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Jul 11, 2014
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5725 times

Indemnity Agreements and Liability Insurance

Protection From Claims Brought by Third Parties

An individual or organization’s risk of being held liable for personal injury or property damage may be shifted to another party who agrees to accept the risk and who holds liability insurance or sufficient assets to back up the acceptance of the risk. A release agreement guards against a successful lawsuit by the person signing the release; an indemnity agreement, in contrast, ensures that if some other person sues, the indemnifying party will be responsible for handling the claim.

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Apr 17, 2014
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12695 times

Installment Agreement

An installment agreement requires the buyer of real estate to pay the seller the purchase price in installments over time; the buyer takes immediate possession of the property but the seller retains legal title as security until the buyer pays in full. An installment agreement can be a low-cost, flexible alternative to a traditional mortgage loan.

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Mar 17, 2015
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12867 times

Invasive Species Management Program

Invasive species management programs help minimize the harm of invasive species on natural lands and encourage the health of native plants and wildlife. 

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Apr 28, 2017
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9622 times

Land Trust Accreditation

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission offers outside verification that a land trust conforms with a key set of practices within Land Trust Standards and Practices. Accreditation is voluntary. A land trust should weigh the advantages of rigorous, external review against the opportunity costs of obtaining and maintaining accredited status.

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Apr 27, 2017
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5244 times

Land Trust Merger Case Studies

This guide describes the catalysts for exploring merger, the exploration and due diligence process, and the outcomes of several consolidations of land trusts with land trusts as well as land trusts with other charitable organizations.

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Oct 09, 2014
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2711 times

Land Trust Standards and Practices

Guidelines for the Responsible Operation of a Land Trust

The Land Trust Standards and Practices are widely accepted ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of a land trust.

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Apr 07, 2017
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8081 times

Legal Considerations for Stewardship Funding Arrangements

Binding Present and Future Landowners to Present Promises

A landowner may agree to one or more funding arrangements that require the landowner or successor owners of an eased property to make one or more payments to the easement holder to support stewardship of the property. An understanding of what makes promises binding is critical for crafting arrangements that are enforceable over time.

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Jul 21, 2015
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15976 times

Lighting Ordinance

Municipal governments can enact ordinances to promote quality outdoor lighting. Good outdoor lighting provides the right amount of light – not too little and not too much – while minimizing glare, light trespass and energy consumption.

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Mar 22, 2011
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7431 times

Lobbying Rules and 501(c)3 Organizations

501(c)3 organizations can lobby to positively affect legislative outcomes but they must follow IRS regulations as well as state and federal regulations dealing with lobbyist registrations and reporting.

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Mar 08, 2017
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10738 times

Local Regulation for Historic Preservation

Local municipal regulations can provide substantial protection to historic resources, preserving their contributions to cultural vitality and helping communities maintain quality of life.

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Mar 08, 2017
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10200 times

Management of the Document Preparation Process

When a document needs to be reviewed, edited and approved by more than one person, good document management and control practices help prevent time-consuming missteps and confusion for all the parties involved.

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Apr 12, 2012
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4562 times

Merger

An Introduction for Conservation Organizations

A land trust may merge with another land trust or other conservation organization in order to more effectively advance the goals of each organization.

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Sep 25, 2014
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Model Conservation Easement

The Model Grant of Conservation Easement and Declaration of Covenants with Commentary provides users with a state-of-the-art legal document and guidance to customize it to nearly any situation. No easement document has benefited from more real-world testing and peer review.

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Apr 26, 2017
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11710 times

Mortgage Subordination

When a mortgage precedes an easement on a property, there is no guaranty of perpetual enforceability of the easement unless the Mortgage Holder signs a document (sometimes called a "mortgage subordination") that allows the easement to survive a foreclosure of the mortgage. While not easy or quick to obtain, careful preparation that addresses the concerns of the mortgage holder can expedite the process.

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Oct 11, 2013
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24018 times

Multi-Municipal Partnerships for Recreation & Parks

Multi-municipal partnerships provide needed recreational opportunities to residents practically and affordably though the sharing of services, equipment and personnel.

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Sep 01, 2015
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7637 times

Nature Play

Nurturing Children and Strengthening Conservation through Connections to the Land

Unstructured, frequent childhood play in informal outdoor settings powerfully boosts the cognitive, creative, physical, social and emotional development of children. It also engenders deep conservation values—more so than any other factor. Part 1 of this guide explores the essential characteristics of nature play, the benefits nature play provides and the societal barriers to it. Part 2 describes the array of concrete actions that organizations may take to restore nature play to children’s lives.

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Sep 17, 2015
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17263 times

Not a Charitable Trust

The Donated Conservation Easement in Pennsylvania

Little evidence exists to support the proposition that a donated conservation easement, in the absence of a charitable trust agreement (not to be confused with the grant of conservation easement), is a charitable trust in Pennsylvania; indeed, there is complelling evidence to the contrary. (Holder covenants may be used to buttress easments and do not run into the legal obstacles or suffer from the policy failings of the trust proposition.)

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Sep 01, 2015
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Not a Public Trust

Land Trust-Held Conservation Easements in Pennsylvania

 No legal precedent exists in Pennsylvania for finding that a conservation easement acquired by a private land trust is a public trust.

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Dec 16, 2014
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2799 times

Official Map

A municipality may express an interest in acquiring specific land (or easements thereon) for trails, streets, parks, open space networks and other public purposes by establishing an “official map” that “reserves” this land. If a landowner seeks to develop reserved land, the municipality has a year to pursue acquisition of the land from the owner before the owner may freely build or subdivide.

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Oct 15, 2011
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7324 times

Options to Sell

An option to sell may be used to assure that a property acquisition can be undone if expectations are not met.

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Last Modified
Sep 02, 2015
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2915 times

Outdoor Access and Programs

Land Trusts Connecting People to Nature

Land trusts have available to them a variety of tools and examples of how to improve public access and provide programming on their lands. By providing new outdoor experiences to adults and children, land trusts may deepen people’s connections to nature and conservation.

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Dec 10, 2015
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2940 times

Pennsylvania Land Choices

The Pennsylvania Land Choices curriculum helps the learner understand the forces and choices that shape a community and region.  It engages and enlightens people regarding civic responsibility, the power of citizens in planning the future of a community, and the conservation of natural resources.

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Feb 11, 2016
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7771 times

Pennsylvania Local Governments May Support Land Trusts

In Pennsylvania, local governments may give money, land and easements to land trusts.

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Aug 26, 2015
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1856 times

Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program

The Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program (PNHP) provides current, reliable, objective, accessible information on Pennsylvania’s ecological resources to help inform environmental, economic, and land use decisions.

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Aug 06, 2014
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5622 times

Pennsylvania's Recreational Use of Land and Water Act

Statutory Protection for Property Owners Who Open Their Land to the Public

Pennsylvania’s Recreational Use of Land and Water Act limits the liability, resulting from personal injury or property damage, of landowners who make their land available to the public for recreation free of charge.

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Jan 27, 2014
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18989 times

Pennsylvania Trail Design and Development Principles

Guidelines for Sustainable, Non-Motorized Trails

Non-motorized trails can be planned, designed, constructed, and managed in ways that are both physically and environmentally sustainable while creating desirable and enjoyable experiences for trail users.

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Mar 28, 2017
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4512 times

Planning a Site Visit with Your Legislator

A visit to a property conserved with a state grant may help a legislator better understand the impact of state conservation investments.

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Jul 24, 2013
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2956 times

Planning & Land Use Ordinance Basics

This guide summarizes planning and land use tools available to municipal and county officials under Pennsylvania’s Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). This guide also provides links to more expansive and comprehensive resources for those interested in learning more.

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Mar 28, 2011
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10186 times

Plant Stewardship Index

The Plant Stewardship Index is a standardized assessment tool that calculates a numerical index reflecting the quality of native plant communities for a given area. It indicates the impacts of invasive plants and can also be used to monitor the efficacy of land management practices.

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Sep 02, 2015
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8291 times

Pledges and Donation Agreements

Before investing time and money in a prospective project, a conservation organization may seek to minimize the potential for misunderstandings with the prospective donor for the project and make the donor’s promise to support the project a legally binding obligation.

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Feb 11, 2013
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21950 times

Poll Results

The Public’s View of Conservation

Across the political spectrum, voters consistently and strongly voice their support for land conservation and parks.

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Mar 28, 2013
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4623 times

Prioritization of Conservation Resources

Conservation prioritization tools are used to assist conservation practitioners in making difficult decisions about which of many conservation resources should be preserved or protected, given limited funds and resources. 

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Sep 02, 2015
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5227 times

Promoting Walking for Wellness

Walking is a free, easily accessible activity that improves physical and mental health and connects people with the outdoors.  A variety of resources exist for promoting walking.

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Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
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995 times

Property Tax Exemption for Preserves, Parks, Trails, and Other Conserved Lands

Preserves, parks, trails and other conserved lands in Pennsylvania are not automatically exempted from real estate taxes. If tax exemption is desired for a parcel, the charitable organization or local government must apply for exemption for that specific parcel. Exemption for one parcel does not guarantee exemption for others owned by the same entity.

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Sep 22, 2015
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2849 times

Public Access Policies and Practices for Land Trusts

Survey Results in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association surveyed Pennsylvania land trusts regarding their organizational policies and practices as well as management issues encountered related to their fee-owned properties.

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Oct 18, 2013
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3902 times

Public Dedication of Land and Fees-in-Lieu for Parks and Recreation

A Tool for Meeting Recreational Demands in Pennsylvania Municipalities

Municipalities may require developers to provide parkland for new developments. They may also offer developers the option to instead pay fees, construct facilities or establish private parkland.

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Mar 16, 2017
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12986 times

Purchase and Sale Agreements

 COMING IN 2018

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Feb 21, 2017
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Purchase Options

Gaining the Right Without the Obligation to Acquire Property Interests

A purchase option is a right to purchase or lease land or other property interests without any obligation to do so.

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Jul 24, 2015
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16640 times

Realty Transfer Tax

Exclusions for Conservation-Related Transactions in Pennsylvania

Many conservation-related property transactions are excluded from having to pay state and local realty transfer taxes in Pennsylvania.

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Aug 05, 2016
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4988 times

Reducing Federal Estate Tax

Death triggers the possibility of a federal estate tax on the assets owned by the deceased person as of the date of death (called the "estate"). A conservation easement on the person’s land can reduce the tax owed.

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Feb 01, 2012
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5043 times

Reducing Liability Associated with Public Access

Public access to property for recreational uses–such as hiking, bird watching, fishing and hunting–raises concern about the possibility of liability on account of injury to a recreational user. Pennsylvania law provides some protection from liability associated with public use of property for recreational purposes. Also there are practical steps that can be taken to minimize risk of liability.

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Jan 14, 2014
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13601 times

Reducing Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax

In Pennsylvania, death triggers a state inheritance tax on the distribution of the deceased person’s assets (called the “estate”) to the beneficiaries of the estate. Conservation restrictions on land included in the estate can reduce the inheritance tax owed.

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Jul 24, 2012
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18514 times

Release of Liability

A Tool for Managing the Risk of a Volunteer or Participant in an Activity Suing the Activity’s Organizer or Host

A properly designed release agreement signed by a volunteer or participant in an activity can substantially reduce the liability risks of the organizing or hosting organization.

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Jul 24, 2015
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11725 times

Restricted Gifts

Issues to Consider Before Making or Taking a Gift for a Specific Purpose

A restricted gift of cash, land, easement or other property may only be used for a particular purpose rather than an organization’s general purposes. Both donor and donee need to be aware of the issues raised by limiting the use of a gift.

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Sep 16, 2015
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2769 times

Reversionary Interest

A landowner who is concerned about the future use of his land can donate or sell the land on a conditional rather than absolute basis. A reversionary interest is created by a deed that reserves to the grantor a future ownership right upon the occurrence of some condition.

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Dec 07, 2012
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36111 times

Rights of First Purchase (Offer, Negotiation and Refusal)

A right of first purchase gives a potential purchaser the opportunity to purchase before a property is sold to another. It can be a right of first offer, a right of first negotiation, a right of first refusal or a combination of these rights.

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Last Modified
Mar 04, 2015
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44645 times

Riparian Buffer Protection Agreement

A riparian buffer protection agreement limits activities on all or a portion of a property to advance conservation purposes while keeping the property in the control of the landowner.

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Jul 31, 2011
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5215 times

Riparian Buffer Protection via Local Government Regulation

A Guide and Model Ordinance for Pennsylvania Municipalities

Riparian buffers—forested or otherwise vegetated lands bordering water bodies—deliver tremendous water quality and other public benefits. Pennsylvania municipalities may ensure the protection and restoration of riparian buffers with their land use regulations.

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May 22, 2014
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Seller Take Back Financing

When a seller wants to close a sale of real estate but the buyer is not yet in a position to fully fund the purchase, the parties can close the sale with the seller taking from the buyer a purchase money note and mortgage in lieu of an all-cash payment.

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Last Modified
Mar 22, 2011
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14891 times

Sign Ordinance

A sign ordinance can help a municipality reduce signage visual clutter and end business “sign wars.” It also can help protect the existing character of a community, establish, or enhance community identity.

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Feb 11, 2016
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15257 times

Steep Slope Ordinance

Zoning regulations for development on and disturbance of steep slopes can prevent erosion and reduce the risk of landslides that endanger lives, damage property and infrastructure, harm water quality, and degrade wildlife habitat. These regulations can also preserve the aesthetic character of visually prominent hillsides by discouraging vegetative clearing and excessive earthwork to accommodate development.

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Last Modified
Jul 20, 2015
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19571 times

Street and Sidewalk Design

Good street and sidewalk design can foster healthier communities by improving public safety, enhancing mobility by fairly supporting all transportation choices, reducing environmental impacts and building community character.

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Last Modified
Oct 18, 2011
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9826 times

The Nature of the Conservation Easement and the Document Granting It

By statute and by common law interpretation, a conservation easement is a real estate interest and is governed by real estate law, in particular, the law of servitudes. This guide analyzes the nature of the conservation easement and the operation of the document granting the easement. It includes discussion of the mechanisms that assist in upholding the easement’s conservation objectives in perpetuity.

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Last Modified
Dec 16, 2014
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5518 times

The Science Behind the Need for Riparian Buffer Protection

 Extensive scientific research documents that vegetated strips of land along waterways provide extensive water quality and other environmental and economic benfits.

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Last Modified
Jan 22, 2015
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7572 times

Traditional Neighborhood Development

Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) is a compact land development pattern that includes a variety of housing types and land uses in a defined area. Public spaces, civic buildings and commercial establishments are located within walking distance of homes. Community identity, civic spaces and walkability are emphasized.

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Last Modified
Nov 01, 2010
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7579 times

Traffic Calming

Traffic-calming incorporates a variety of design and management strategies in local streetscapes to control volume and speed of traffic for the safety of both motorists and non-motorists.

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Dec 07, 2012
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8588 times

Trail Easements

A landowner may convey to another person the rights to create a trail, open it for public use and maintain it without the owner giving up ownership and enjoyment of the land through which the trail passes.

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Apr 27, 2016
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6029 times

Transfer of Development Rights

Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) is a zoning technique used to permanently protect farmland and other natural and cultural resources by redirecting development that would otherwise occur on these resource lands to areas planned to accommodate growth and development.

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Nov 01, 2010
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Tree Ordinance

A tree ordinance establishes authorization and standards for addressing a wide range of issues regarding a municipality’s trees. The ordinance should be developed and implemented as part of a broader effort to identify and address a community’s tree-related goals.

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Aug 16, 2011
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Universal Access Trails and Shared Use Paths

Design, Management, Ethical, and Legal Considerations

How can trail groups, local governments and land trusts responsibly plan, develop and operate trails that are accessible by all people, including those with limited mobility? What are best management practices? What is legally required? When is universal accessibility not appropriate?

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Oct 23, 2015
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Urban Growth Boundary

Urban growth boundaries are used to contain land development by delineating areas where government policy encourages high density, mixed used development from areas where policy encourages rural and agricultural uses.  Urban growth boundaries can promote prosperous urban areas and protect farmland and open space.

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Sep 02, 2015
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What Is a Land Trust?

Simply stated, a land trust is a charitable organization that acquires land or conservation easements, or that stewards land or easements, for conservation purposes. However, this simple definition leaves much to be explained.

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Apr 26, 2017
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Who Has Standing?

Conservation Easements in Pennsylvania Courts

Who can assert claims and be heard in Pennsylvania’s courts if a dispute heats up over the management of a conservation easement?

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Apr 27, 2016
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Why Preserve Farmland?

Farms feed us and provide a host of other public benefits.  However, every day, the amount of fertile farmland diminishes as development spreads. This guide describes the importance of preserving productive agricultural lands.

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Feb 14, 2017
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Zoning for Non-Commercial Solar and Wind Systems

Municipalities may adopt zoning regulations governing the installation and operation of solar and wind energy systems. This guide specifically examines zoning for non-commercial installations (for example, residential rooftop solar panels).

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Apr 25, 2013
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