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What You Need to Know about Lawsuits and Herding Cats

November 14, 2012 | Land Trust Alliance | Washington, D.C.

They say that managing lawyers is like herding cats. To help you with your cat-herding needs and more, the Land Trust Alliance has prepared a Legal Challenges Toolkit, which is now available online at The Learning Center.  

This publication, also known as Practical Pointers for Land Trusts When Facing a Lawsuit or Other Legal Challenge of Any Size, explains the often-intimidating steps involved in a legal challenge so land trust personnel can understand the process before having to face it. It contains examples from real life controversies and is written in language that is easily accessible to readers who do not have a legal background. It also includes citations to legal opinions described in the text for those with greater expertise or curiosity. We hope you find this new resource practical and helpful in addressing violations, upholding permanence and defending against challenges.  

Dealing with a violation or a trespass need not be an embarrassment to anyone involved or necessarily a precursor to contentious relationships within the community. If handled well, these challenges can even serve to strengthen your organization with new insights and understanding. However, if a land trust has not yet faced a challenge, the first one might be intimidating. Intimidation can lead to misunderstandings and mistakes so it is best to prepare well in advance.

It is prudent for land trusts to prepare themselves to defend what they have worked so hard to protect. By obtaining the right to conserve property - either through easement or outright ownership - land trusts have committed to defending that right when it is challenged. This toolbox explains the process of defending that right, to honor that commitment when the time comes to do so.

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Support from land trusts

Christian Freitag, attorney-at-law and executive director at Sycamore Land Trust (IN), says "I view Conservation Defense Insurance as another step the land trust community is taking to keep our promises. We claim that we will help people protect their land in perpetuity. With this program, the public can be more confident than ever that we take that commitment seriously."


Greg Gamble, executive director at Ojai Valley Land Conservancy (CA), says that "this is one of the most helpful things that the Land Trust Alliance could attempt for its members, and I have greatly appreciated the professional, thoughtful, fair and inclusive process that you have led."


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