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Conservation Easements

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Dec 16, 2014
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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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