From time to time a land trust may need to sell or transfer its land or conservation easements. But how do you ensure that the land’s conservation values are protected once it leaves your control? Take this course so that you can fulfill your obligations to your donors and to the land. This course will provide an overview of the ethical considerations and technical steps involved in selling and transferring lands or interests in land held by the organization.
The first chapter focuses on selling land and conservation easements. Land trusts may sell land they already own or have acquired specifically for the purpose of resale, such as in a trade land or conservation buyer program. Whatever the circumstances, board members should be involved in the major decisions regarding land sale transactions and must be vigilant to ensure that the land trust follows all laws, there is no private inurement or impermissible private benefit and any conflicts of interest are appropriately managed. The chapter discusses the steps involved in carrying out a legal and ethical land sale, from how to determine the land’s conservation values and conduct an environmental assessment to marketing the property and selecting buyers. It goes on to present the proper procedures for any land transaction that involves an insider to the organization. Land trusts may also be interested in selling conservation easements on land they hold in fee. The chapter includes a brief description of several federal programs that provide funding to purchase easements from private landowners and nonprofit organizations, including land trusts.
The second chapter is devoted to the transfer or exchange of land and conservation easements. These transactions can be the most exacting, but can yield enormous rewards in terms of land conservation. The chapter provides a summary of the different types of exchanges and presents several real-life examples that illustrate how land trusts have conducted exchanges. Much of the chapter discusses how land trusts can work with public agencies to preacquire valuable conservation land. In a preacquisition, the land trust acquires a property or easement from a landowner and then transfers it to an agency for permanent conservation management. This collaboration pairs the flexibility and quickness of action of a land trust with the long-term management capabilities and access to government funds of an agency to protect land for public benefit.
This course is designed for land trust board members, staff and volunteers who are involved in or wish to begin a land sale or transfer program. Stewardship staff and those involved in management of the land trust’s finances and operations will also benefit from this course.
Standards & Practices, Land Transactions, Conservation Easements