Norman Area Land Conservancy Newsletter Volume 6, Issue 2
Conservation Easement FAQ’s What is a conservation easement? A conservation easement is a restriction landowners voluntarily place on specified uses of their property to protect natural, productive or cultural features. Easements are custom designed and negotiated to meet the personal and financial needs of the landowner. An easement may cover Dedicated to portions of a property or the entire parcel. The easement will identify the Conserve, Improve, rights the landowner wishes to retain, limit, or forgo. and Protect Rural With a conservation easement the landowner retains legal title to and Urban the property and determines the types of land uses to continue and those Environments of to restrict. As part of the arrangement, the landowner grants the holder of Norman the conservation easement the right to periodically assess the condition of the property to ensure it is maintained according to terms of the easement. BOARD MEMBERS Why do landowners donate conservation easements? Joan Barker Landowners donate conservation easements for a variety of reaBen Benedum sons. Foremost is a love of their land and a strong desire to protect it for Geoff Canty their families and future generations. Patrick Copeland Conservation easements are powerful estate planning tools that Dennis R. Crites, Secy. Hake, Dan provide families the opportunity to plan together for the future of their land. Jim McCampbell Neighboring landowners who donate conservation easements on Lyle Milby contiguous properties provide mutual protection against unwanted or unMatt Runkle planned development while sharing benefits of conserving larger resource Ben Southerland, Vice Chair areas for wildlife, scenic landscapes, privacy, and land management. James Spurgeon The donation of a conservation easement may provide substantial Lynne Miller Stuart tax benefits through the reduction of federal income and estate taxes, and Caryn Vaughn possible property tax relief. Lyntha Wesner, Chair What kinds of land can be protected by a conservation easement? (405) 321-2204 Any land whose conservation is in the public interest - woodland, Brad Wilson wetlands, farmland, scenic areas, historic areas, wild and scenic rivers, and undisturbed natural areas. (more inside) John Raeside, Treasurer FOUNDING MEMBERS Marion Bauman Patrick Copeland Robert C. Goins Harold Heiple Edwin Kessler John Raeside Jacci Rodgers Lee Rodgers Lyntha Wesner
Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.
NALC Protected Lands Near 1,000 Acre Mark In the past three years, the Norman Area Land Conservancy has acquired conservation easements on almost 1,000 acres. Acreage amount and location of each parcel is shown in the arrows on the map of Norman. (See inside for land descriptions.)
Committed to Norman’s Quality of Life
Volume 6, Issue 2
What are disadvantages of donating an easement? Because an easement restricts property development, the market value of the land may be reduced. What does the conservation easement process involve? After a prospective parcel is determined eligible, the organization and landowner will enter into a contract called “An Agreement in Principle”, a formal appraisal will be completed, a land survey will be done, if needed, and the language of the easement document negotiated. If a parcel is eligible for financial reimbursement from the government, applications must be submitted to and approved by the governing agency. When all paperwork and contracts are ready, documents are signed with the assistance of a title company and recorded in the county records. What does a conservation easement contain? A typical conservation easement will: • Follow the Internal Revenue Code guidelines for establishing conservation easements • Specify how the easement meets the mission of the receiving organization • Establish the criteria by which the easement meets the test of natural habitat, productive forestry, scenic values, or historically important land area • Protect against commercial or residential development of the property • Specify how the land may continue to be used in future years • Specify types and number of any future building/construction • Specify responsibilities of the landowner and the receiving organization What is the responsibility of the conservation organization after the easement is recorded? The receiving organization will physically inspect the land on a regular basis to ensure compliance with the terms of the easement. If a current landowner significantly ignores or violates terms of the easement, the conservation organization must take legal steps to resolve the matter. How long does the easement last? Easements are granted in perpetuity, and therefore, all present and future owners of the land are subject to the easement’s conditions. Will an easement grant the public access to my property? The easement document states whether or not the land owner will allow public access. Many landowners are willing to allow limited public access for educational, recreation or research purposes. Who owns land that is under an easement? Can it be sold? The landowner who donated the easement remains the owner of the land. The land can be bought and sold. However, the easement "runs with the land" and applies to all future landowners. Can property owners still live on and use the land if they donate an easement? Yes. Easements typically allow construction of farm buildings and other agricultural practices.
NALC Protected Lands The Kuhlman family property at 4701 N. Porter was the first conservation easement acquired by NALC. Primarily agricultural, with a small dairy operation, the land is in the Little River floodway, which runs from west to northeast across the entire property and is in an area that is rapidly being developed into residential neighborhoods. Formerly part of Potts Dairy Farm, this land was considered prime development property because of its R-1 zoning. Placed into easement by John D. and Andrew John Potts, it is south of Canadian Trails Subdivision, west of S. Chautauqua, and is part of the “Oklahoma Sensitive Waters and Watersheds” corridor. Large, old trees and understory are homes to songbirds and an occasional Painted Bunting. Brothers Tony and Ken Parker donated almost half of their pasture and wooded land that sits high above the S. Canadian River west of Noble at the mouth of Bishop Creek. Often referred to as “The Pearl of Oklahoma,” they have restored the land to its natural state where it supports a wide variety of animals: wild turkey, badger, otter, mink, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle and Interior Least Tern. http://nalc-ok.org/
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Can mortgaged property be eligible for a conservation easement donation? Yes, but all who hold title to or have legal rights to a property must agree to terms of the easement. How much is the gift of an easement worth? The value of each easement gift varies. Generally, the more the easement restricts the uses of the property, the higher the value of the gift, and hence the higher the tax deduction. To determine the easement value, the land is appraised at both fair market value without easement restrictions, and its fair market value with easement restrictions. The difference between these two appraisals is the easement value. How do future owners of a property know that an easement exists? The easement is recorded in the land records of the county government. Any title search (generally done when land changes hands) will therefore reveal the existence of the easement. Can conservation easements be donated by will? The landowner should contact the conservation organization in advance to ensure that the gift will be accepted. It is often better to donate an easement during one's lifetime because of income tax benefits. Sources: Conservation Easements: A Guide for Texas Landowners Texas Parks and Wildlife
NALC DEPENDS ON YOUR SUPPORT
Maryland Environmental Trust http://www.dnr.state.md.us/met/ce.html
Northern California Regional Land Trust http://www.landconservation.org/conservationeasements.php
Tall Timbers Land Conservancy http://www.talltimbers.org/landconservancy.html
Texas Land Trust Council http://www.texaslandtrustcouncil.org/what-is-a-conservationeasement
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/home What Landowners Should Know When Considering Conservation Easements: Insights from Colorado Landowners
The Conservancy is an allvolunteer organization that depends on membership renewals for operating costs. As the number of protected properties grows, acquisition and stewardship responsibilities increase accordingly.
Colorado State University Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics http://region8water.colostate.edu/PDFs/xcm-226.pdf
PLEASE RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY!
NALC Protected Lands T.H. and Kathleen Milby donated their 25-year labor of love, a tree farm with thousands of handplanted trees and diverse wildlife, including bluebirds, blackberries and a beaver family that lives in a lodge on the small lake. The property is located southeast of Noble on Cemetery Road at 60th.
Located on the headwaters of Jim Blue Creek, a major tributary of Lake Thunderbird, this property owned by Stan and Gayle Ward provides wildlife habitat, watershed protection, agriculture, enjoyment of land in its natural state and cedar eradication. It also serves as a safe haven for small mammals and birds that are rehabilitated and released by WildCare of Oklahoma, Inc. (http:// www.wildcareoklahoma.org/). It also has significant Rose Rock formations. The Hoover Farm has been in the family since the Run of 1889. Concerned that the farm remain in its agricultural and natural state, siblings Jim Hoover and Kay Hoover Collins placed two adjoining parcels into conservation easements. Located on the west side of SE 120th, south of Cedar Lane, the land features pastures, native trees and grasses. http://nalc-ok.org/
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NEW BOARD MEMBERS ENRICH CONSERVANCY EXPERTISE Dan Hake grew up in Northwest Kansas where he worked farm jobs, water well drilling & maintenance, construction, wildlife biology and various outdoor jobs during high school and before finishing his college degrees. He received a B.S. in Botany from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas and M.S. in Agronomy from Oklahoma State University, with emphasis in grassland ecology. After OSU, Dan started work for the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO), State of Oklahoma and he currently oversees School Land Trust properties in Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Garvin, Grady, McClain, Oklahoma, Pottowatomie Counties. Lyle Milby has worked for the City of Norman since 1975, starting in the wastewater treatment division and moving in 1997 to what is now the environmental services office, where he is the Assistant Coordinator. His primary responsibilities involve administering the Cityâ€™s industrial pretreatment program which entails regulating the process wastewater discharges from the industries and businesses in Norman. Lyle has been an active member of Cleveland County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), charged with planning for responses to chemical release emergencies that may occur from either a fixed facility or a transportation accident within Cleveland County. Lyle has had a life-long interest in environmental issues, which was instilled and nurtured in him by his parents, T.H. and Kathy Milby. Caryn Vaughn is an ecologist, conservation biologist and educator. A Norman native, she earned her B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Oklahoma and did postdoctoral studies in Marine Biology at Rice University. She is the Director of the Oklahoma Biological Survey and a Presidential Professor of Zoology, both at the University of Oklahoma. Caryn has done research in a variety of ecosystems including reservoirs, estuaries, small streams and large rivers and with organisms as diverse as insects, mollusks and fish. She routinely provides expertise on Oklahomaâ€™s aquatic species and rivers to state and federal agencies, Indian tribes, consulting firms and other parties. She is currently working on establishing environmental flow recommendations to protect aquatic species in rivers in southeastern Oklahoma. At the local level, she served two terms on the Greenbelt Commission and wants to help preserve green space and help Norman grow responsibly. Brad Wilson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. While in college, Brad served as the NWOSU coordinator for Vocal Oklahomans in Civil Engagement, an organization dedicated to promoting student involvement in government and community. In law school, Brad worked as a Student Coordinator for Student's for Access to Justice, OU Law's only pro bono placement organization and currently serves on the Access to Justice Committee for the Oklahoma Bar Association. His interest in conservation and civic engagement lead to involvement in the Norman Area Land Conservancy. Brad is active in the Norman community and is a member of the Cleveland County Bar Association and St. John's Episcopal Church, where he serves as a Sunday School teacher and Clerk of the Vestry.
EE? R T S Large groves of centuries-old native trees, THI W like this Burr Oak that grows in the KNO U O Little River flood plain, are inY DO creasingly at risk due to development of residential subdivisions in the northeast portion of Norman. If you know landowners in this area who might be interested in placing their property into a conservation easement, CALL NALC at (405) 321-2204.
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Www.nalcok.org Norman Area Land Conservancy P.O. Box 1616 Norman, OK 73070