Pat Willits -
First Annual Report
Annual Report for the Trust for Land Restoration for the trust's fiscal year ending March 31, 2001.
Recognizing that important land conservation efforts are almost always stymied when complex mined-land liability issues present themselves, TLR has sought to find a path through the regulatory maze by cooperating with regulators, local governments, the legal community and other land trusts to develop and share environmental liability management techniques. A diverse Board of Directors leads TLR with expertise in mining, environmental restoration, law, real estate, government relations and non-profit land conservation.
Summit County/Peru Creek Assessment Receives Funding
The USEPA has awarded $250,000 to Summit County to perform a Peru Creek Brownfield Assessment. Trust for Land Restoration is a sub-grantee and the principal partner to Summit County for the project, with about $90,000 of the grant earmarked for TLR analysis and liability management activities related to the assessment. The USEPA's Brownfield program encourages the remediation and redevelopment of urban industrial sites. The Peru Creek project is the first attempt to apply Brownfield liability management tools in a natural setting impacted by mining.
The Peru Creek project represents a dynamic partnership between a variety of interested parties, including TLR, Summit County, local landowners, the US Forest Service, state and federal regulators, and academia. For TLR, this two-year project will serve as a cooperative demonstration project to test our environmental liability management strategies. These strategies depend upon cooperation with both government regulators and private property owners in a manner that recognizes and respects property ownership, interests and rights.
Summit County and TLR's success in landing the grant owes much thanks to the help of the Denver office of the USEPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and in the interest of Congressman Mark Udall.
4/16/01: TLR's Two Year Anniversary
April 16 marked the two-year anniversary of the incorporation of the Trust for Land Restoration. It also marked the end of TLR's probationary period as a Colorado non-profit land trust. The Land Trust Alliance defines a land trust as a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting direct land transactions, primarily the purchase or acceptance of donations of land or conservation easements.
Conservation easements have gained considerable acceptance and respect of landowners, conservationists, government regulators, attorneys, tax accountants, and the public as an indispensable tool for those seeking a cooperative, non-confrontational approach to land conservation. Essentially, they are a set of deed restrictions voluntarily placed on private property by the landowner. Donors of conservation easements are often eligible for both state and federal tax benefits. On top of the potential of an immediate tax incentive, some landowners also use easements as an estate-planning tool. In addition to receiving donated conservation easements, land trusts sometimes purchase them. Purchased conservation easements are referred to as PDRs, or purchase of development rights.
TLR's strategic plan outlines our interest in acquiring and holding conservation easements, performing restoration activities and liability management, and then transferring the easement to another land trust suitable for holding the easement for the long term.
For land trusts, conservation easements provide protection without the cost and responsibility of fee ownership. The terms of easements are flexible, are negotiated individually between the landowner and the land trust, and are tailored to take into account unique situations, needs and circumstances. Easements usually restrict the ability of the landowner to develop part or all of a parcel of property. In Colorado, it is becoming more and more common to see easements that allow for some development on a given piece of property, usually in set-aside building envelopes.
With the opportunity to hold conservation easements comes a new set of responsibilities for the Trust for Land Restoration. The Land Trust Alliance, of which TLR is a member organization, has developed The Standards and Practices Guidebook outlining a number of policies and procedures for land trusts to follow. To date, TLR has modeled itself after these guidelines. In the coming months it will be necessary to write and adopt specific TLR policies and procedures dealing with all of the issues surrounding operating as a land trust. For a preview of these standards and practices, check out the Land Trust Alliance web site at www.lta.org.
A Liability Management Guide
The Jeff Kodish legal paper, Restoring Inactive and Abandoned Mine Sites: A Guide to Managing Environmental Liabilities, and the TLR Board policy, Environmental Liability Management Protocols and Procedures are now available on our web site. These two documents are the sum of dozens of meetings with government regulators, hours of phone calls, and weeks of research. Taken together, they provide the road map for managing liability inherent in our work. The legal paper and the Board policies were featured in our presentation to the national Land Trust Alliance Rally at Portland, Oregon last October. Thirty-five land trust professionals attended our workshop.
Restoring Inactive and Abandoned Mine Sites: A Guide to Managing Environmental Liabilities has returned from outside review, and has been submitted for publication. Electronic versions of the legal paper and TLR's Environmental Liability Management Board policies are available via email, and may be requested by sending a message to Pat Willits.
Jeff Kodish Gets a Day Job
Sad (for us) but true, our Attorney Jeff Kodish has been lured away from his private law practice and his role as Trust for Land Restoration's general counsel to go to work for the USEPA. Jeff remains a member of the TLR Board, approved by an EPA conflict of interest review panel. We are pleased that Jeff stays with TLR as a dedicated and engaged Board member, but we already miss Jeff's almost daily advice and counsel. Words are inadequate to describe Jeff's value to our young organization.
April Montgomery Steps Up
Attorney April Montgomery has agreed to serve as TLR's general counsel. April has been a TLR Board member since May 2000. She is the former San Miguel County Open Space and Recreation Director. Her membership on the Colorado Bar and hands on land conservation experience in Colorado makes April a great asset to the TLR team.
TLR By the Numbers
March 31 marked the end of TLR's first fiscal year of receiving funds and spending money. A glance at the numbers indicates that over the past 12 months we received $44,000 in grants and donations, including $25,000 from Great Outdoors Colorado. In addition, we received donations of pro-bono legal expertise valued in excess of $12,000.
Trust for Land
Trust for Land
Trust for Land Restoration is a 501(c)(3) non-profit land trust. The financial support of interested individuals, businesses and foundations allows us to focus on our goal of overcoming liability hurdles impeding the restoration and conservation of environmentally significant lands that have been mined.
The Trust for Land
Trust for Land Restoration