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Policy Events at Rally 2013

Join us in New Orleans, LA September 17-19 for dozens of policy-related seminars and workshops at Rally 2013. Come learn how to lobby effectively, explore specific policy issues and funding opportunities and pose questions to the federal agencies that impact your work.

Registration has closed, but you can still register on-site upon checking in at the Sheraton.

Our Rally details page has complete seminar and workshop information, including many sessions on tax law and federal programs not listed below, but the following are some highlighted sessions most closely related to enhancing your organization's advocacy capacity.

Index of Workshops:

Tax & IRS:

Farm Bill & Ag:

Federal Funding:


Tuesday, September 17 -- Seminars


Advocating for Conservation Success: How Do I Get from Here to There?*
Lynne Sherrod, Anne Garnett
8:30am – 4:30pm
Basic | $165/$195
Everyone advocates for something. Are you effective and is it time well spent? This highly interactive course will aid in understanding the political and cultural climate which provides opportunities and challenges for the cause of land protection and addresses the "how" and "why" it can be incorporated into your overloaded schedule. It will also address cultivating and maintaining effective relationships with both policy makers and the media. You will leave armed with a personalized organizational action plan and the necessary skills for advocacy and organizational messaging conducive to conservation initiatives at the local, state and national level. Case studies from across the country will help shed light on real life examples about what works, what doesn't and why.


Steve Small’s Checklist and Tips for a Conservation Easement ProjectCLE
Steve Small
1:00pm – 5:00pm
Intermediate/Advanced | $90/$105
Steve Small will go through a 40+ item conservation easement project checklist, compiled during over 30 years of legal practice.  The checklist will take you from the first email or call, through the closing binders, to general strategy for dealing with an IRS audit if one comes up.  Steve will put particular emphasis on: (1) the most important things to remember to keep the IRS happy; (2) often-hidden tax, legal, and appraisal planning issues; (3) fringe-of-the-law (and as yet unanswered) tax, legal, appraisal, and drafting questions, including unconventional but potentially useful easement provisions; and (4) the most common land trust easement document (“we always do it this way”) mistakes he encounters.


Wednesday, September 18th – Workshops

10:30am to Noon:

A17 Getting Involved in State Policy: Decisions are Made by Those Who Show Up | Basic

Policies that affect land trusts are made every day at the local, state and federal level. Particularly at the state level, these policies can be helpful or hurtful, provide more resources or fewer, and change the underpinnings for land conservation. This session will explain why and how to get involved in state-level policy, and offer experiences from the field as to how getting involved can help move your conservation program to the next level.

  • Heather Richards, Vice President of Conservation and Rural Programs, Piedmont Environmental Council (VA)
  • Rob Bleiberg, Executive Director, Mesa Land Trust (CO)
  • Ogden Driskill, Former Board Member, Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust (WY)
  • Sean Robertson, Public Policy Specialist, Land Trust Alliance (DC)
  • Mike Strigel, Executive Director, Gathering Waters Conservancy (WI)

A19 - North American Wetlands Conservation Act Grants
For more than 20 years the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) program, a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has provided grant funding to a variety of organizations including over 200 land trusts. NAWCA provides matching grants to organizations and individuals who have developed partnerships to carry out wetlands and associated uplands conservation projects in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico for the benefit of wetlands associated migratory birds and other wildlife. This session will provide current and prospective grantees’ insight into the latest updates to the NAWCA program, including information on the $100,000,000 Deep Horizon settlement funds to be awarded through NAWCA, review tools available to applicants and grantees, and describe pitfalls grantees have experienced. Presentation followed by question and answer session.

  • Anna-Marie York, Grant Officer, US Fish & Wildlife Service (VA)
  • Leakhena Au, Grant Officer, US Fish & Wildlife Service (VA)

1:30pm to 3:00pm:

B16 Amendment, Modification and Termination of CEs: Conflicting Policies and Troublesome Court Opinions (CLE)| Intermediate/Advanced

Recent Tax Court Cases highlight troublesome issues facing the land trust community involving amendment, modification and termination of conservation easements. The concept of modification should be viewed broadly to include events such as restoration of damaged habitat, failure to enforce deed restrictions and reinvestment of proceeds of a termination. The Tax Court has addressed these issues in Simmons and Belk, but these opinions reflect tax policy issues that may diverge from non-tax conservation policies. This proposal involves a panel of speakers with varying backgrounds and experience in an interactive panel discussion of these issues and questions.

  • Ronald Levitt, Attorney, Sirote & Permutt, PC (AL)
  • Jessica Jay, Conservation Attorney, Conservation Law, P.C. (CO)
  • Tim Lindstrom, Attorney (VA)
  • David Wooldridge, Shareholder, Sirote & Permutt, PC (AL)
  • Bill Weeks, Attorney At Law, The Conservation Law Center (IN)

B18 The Land and Water Conservation Fund: Strategic Shifts and Interagency Collaboration to Support National Landscape Initiatives| Intermediate/Advanced

2013 will be an important year for the Land and Water Conservation fund and its contributions to collaborative inter-agency land protection. In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service collaborated to submit the firstever joint funding request to Congress for land acquisition in key landscapes. This groundbreaking multi-agency effort to strategically target investment of Land and Water Conservation funds is designed to deliver critical conservation gains and support community-driven conservation planning in nationally important landscapes. What does this effort tell us about the government’s evolving approach to landscape-scale conservation? How will the Agencies work with each other and with other Federal and non-Federal partners to make decisions about conservation investments in the future? Please join staff and leadership from the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture to discuss these questions and other topics relevant to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Federal conservation strategy.

  • Nancy Parachini, National Program Manager, Land Acquisition, US Forest Service (DC)
  • Eric Alvarez, Chief, Division of Realty, US Fish & Wildlife Service (VA)
  • Simi Batra, Realty Specialist, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Division of Realty (VA)
  • David Beaver, National LWCF Program Lead, Bureau of Land Management, (DC)
  • Leslie Jones, Advisor for Landscape Conservation to Assistant Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, US Department of Agriculture (DC)
  • Sarah Peterson, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management & Budget, US Dept of the Interior (DC)
  • William Shaddox, Chief, Land Resources Division, National Park Service, (DC)

3:30pm to 5:00pm

C09 Creating A Regional Conservation Strategy

From 2010 through 2012 Columbia Land Trust partnered with Metro, The Intertwine Alliance, and dozens of other organizations to create the first ever Regional Conservation Strategy (RCS)for the Greater Portland-Vancouver Region. This session will use the RCS as a case study for a discussion on collaborative conservation planning. We will describe the GIS data and models that were created and how they are being used to inform and direct conservation and restoration work in the region. We will highlight the opportunities and challenges of conservation planning in a region that includes large areas of both urban and rural lands.

  • Dan Roix, Mid-River Conservation Lead, Columbia Land Trust (WA)
  • Tommy Albo, Natural Areas GIS Coordinator, Metro (OR)

C17 Working with the IRS

A panel discussion with IRS staff involved in managing conservation easement issues, moderated by attorney Stephen J. Small.

  • Russell Shay, Director of Public Policy, Land Trust Alliance (DC)
  • Steve Small, Esq., Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)
  • IRS Representatives

C19 - USDA FRPP: Connect with Colleagues - A Facilitated Roundtable Discussion
Utilizing FRPP to preserve important agricultural lands? Feel you could be more effective at securing and efficiently managing FRPP projects? Wish you had a network of other practitioner’s you could easily reach out to with FRPP specific questions? This session is designed bring together practitioners from across the county in a roundtable forum to learn from one another.

  • Cari Watkins-Bates, Conservation Planning Associate, Defenders of Wildlife (DC)
  • Brian Bourdages, Farmland Program Manager, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (MI)
  • Erik Glen, Deputy Director, Colorado Cattleman's Agricultural Land Trust (CO)

Thursday, September 19th – Workshops

8:30am to 10:00am

D06 Watershed Protection for Water Utilities | Intermediate

The session will provide an overview of the City of Raleigh’s watershed protection program, the Upper Neuse Clean Water Initiative. This program represents a novel, cost-effective approach for drinking water utilities to protect and improve raw water quality through land conservation. In close partnership with several local land trusts, Raleigh has helped preserve over 60 properties totaling 6,170 acres and 61 miles of stream banks since 2005. The city used revenues from new utility connection fees at first, and now has a penny-per-100 gallon Watershed Protection Fee to fund land and conservation easement acquisitions.

  • Ed Buchan, Environmental Coordinator, City of Raleigh Public Utilities Department (NC)
  • Reid Wilson, Executive Director, Conservation Trust for North Carolina (NC)
  • Caitlin Burke, Special Projects and Grants Coordinator, Conservation Trust for North Carolina (NC)

D09 Across the Swamp and into the Mud: Discretionary Approvals and Private Benefit (CLE) | Intermediate

Land trusts are often requested to exercise their discretion to approve activities, improvements or uses on or of conserved property. This can occur where the land trusts are given authority in the deed to grant or to withhold their consent, often in their sole discretion. Often more problematically, it can be where the proposed activity is neither explicitly prohibited or allowed by an easement deed, including when addressing a possible violation This workshop will explore the issues involved in facing those decisions, including drafting considerations, the interpretation and implementation of discretionary approvals, and when an easement amendment might be appropriate or necessary. Addressing these issues also raises the interplay between discretionary approvals and private benefit and private inurement prohibitions. We will raise more questions than supply answers, but we hope to provide the audience with problem solving tools and the questions they should ask when facing these often difficult scenarios.

  • Tom Masland, Attorney, Ransmeier & Spellman, P.C. (NH)
  • Steve Swartz, General Counsel, The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust (MD)
  • Larry Kueter, Attorney, Law Office of Lawrence R. Kueter (CO)

D14 Trying Times: Important Lessons To Be Learned from Recent Federal Tax Cases (CLE)| All

The IRS has been aggressively auditing taxpayers who have donated conservation easements and claimed federal tax benefits. Since 2006, the Tax Court, District Courts, and Circuit Courts have collectively issued thirty six court decisions (fifteen in 2012 alone) covering qualification, valuation, and compliance issues often not addressed in more than thirty years of reported conservation easement decisions. The presenters will discuss the lessons to be learned from this recent case law, and the new emphasis by IRS on “administrative” and “perpetuity” issues.

  • Nancy McLaughlin, Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law (UT)
  • Steve Small, Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)
  • Karin Gross, Supervisory Attorney, Internal Revenue Service (DC)
  • Marc Caine, Attorney, Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel (DC)

D16 Public Policy 2013 Update and 2014 Forum | All

In this combined session, the Land Trust Alliance public policy team will discuss the current status of our 2013 public policy priorities and outline options for our work in 2014. The later part of this session is a forum for Land Trust Alliance members to discuss and provide input on emerging issues and how the public policy program can more effectively mobilize the land trust community on important policy issues.

  • Russell Shay, Director of Public Policy, Land Trust Alliance (DC)

D17 Federal Funding for Land Conservation: Opportunities for Land Protection Programs in the 113th Congress | All

An overview of opportunities for advocacy in the land trust community on behalf of critical federal land conservation programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and the Federal Lands Transaction and Facilitation Act (FLTFA). We will cover the latest updates on these programs, an overview of how they work, the overall budget climate in Washington, DC, and highlight legislation (pending or on the horizon) where land trust advocacy will be critical.

  • Alan Rowsome, Director of Conservation Funding, Wilderness Society (DC)
  • Katherine DeCoster, Vice President and Director of Federal Affairs, The Trust for Public Land (DC)
  • Kelly Ingebritson, Western Lands Government Relations, The Conservation Fund (VA)

10:30am to Noon:

E06 Quantifying and Communicating the Economic Benefits of Land Conservation | Basic

Land trusts need to communicate the economic benefits of land conservation to local government officials and the public. This session teaches participants how to talk about the economics of conservation using recently released case studies in Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. We provide an overview of the categories of economic benefits and how we measured these values. We also discuss how local land trusts used the results of the study on the ground to successfully defend and enhance public funds for conservation.

  • Jessica Sargent, Director, Conservation Economics, The Trust for Public Land (MA)
  • Tom Gilbert, Regional Conservation Services Director, The Trust for Public Land (PA)
  • Daniel Stevens, Research Associate, The Trust for Public Land (CA)

E08 Embracing the Climate Change Challenge: Communicating and Engaging with Your Community More Effectively | Intermediate

Climate change is changing the lands we conserve, and their vulnerability to outside events. But we have a choice. We don’t have to accept massive climate change because we can work collectively to stop or slow climate change. Increasing numbers of land trusts are starting to take action to slow climate change, learning how to talk about it and finding common ground in their communities. This workshop will focus on a variety of examples, tools, techniques and methods of communication to work to slow or stop climate change and engage your community. We will present regional and national trends of this work and facilitate a discussion with participants.

  • Judy Anderson, Principal, Community Consultants (NY)
  • Sara Gordon, Project Manager, Peconic Land Trust (NY)
  • Andrew Pitz, Executive Director, French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust (PA)

E11 Understanding Conservation Appraisals: From Engagement to Review | Intermediate

This session will familiarize participants with conservation easement valuations, including common considerations for appraisers preparing appraisals for conservation easements, recognized methodologies used in valuing conservation easements, and helpful tips for reviewing conservation easement appraisals. The session will focus heavily on ensuring credible appraisals to withstand scrutiny by the IRS. Participants will learn to identify features of the ideal appraisal report, examine warning signs of a problem appraisal, and dig into examples of complex review appraisal assignments.

  • Sara Stephens, Appraisal Institute (IL)

E12 The National Wildlife Refuge System: Partnering with Land Trusts and Local Government | Basic/Intermediate

Administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System consists of over 561 Refuges, covering 150 million acres in nearly every state. A substantial portion of the lands within our boundaries remains in private ownership, as do many valuable lands outside our boundaries. There is an opportunity for land trusts and local gov’t to partner with the Service to conserve these lands. This session explores case studies where conservation partners have purchased land for inclusion into the Refuge System, or leveraged conservation benefits by conserving land outside NWR boundaries. We will be prepared to answer basic and technical questions pertaining to NWR land acquisition.

  • Simi Batra, Realty Specialist, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Division of Realty (VA)
  • Ken Clough, Senior Realty Specialist, US Fish & Wildlife Service (MS)
  • Kelly Reed, Director of Government Relations, The Conservation Fund (VA)
  • Ray Herndon, Director - Lower Mississippi, The Conservation Fund (LA)

E13 Oil and Gas, and Fracking (?!) CAN Work with Conservation Easements—Sometimes (CLE)| Intermediate/Advanced

There is virtually no guidance anywhere in the law on how much exploration is too much to be consistent with protecting a property’s conservation values. In addition, the spread of natural gas exploration and extraction, and fracking, seemingly to all parts of the country, has raised particularly difficult questions for practitioners and for land trusts. This seminar, led by attorneys and the executive director of a statewide land trust, all of whom have experience with these issues, will teach you what you need to know to be able to determine, on the particular facts of each case (in particular who owns what and state law rules), whether exploration, extraction, and fracking, and a conservation easement, will NOT work together, whether they MIGHT, and when, subject to appropriate limitations, they CAN work together.

  • Steve Small, Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)
  • Blair Fitzsimons, Executive Director, Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TX)

E16 Advocacy Alert! Political Challenges to Conservation Easements, Funding and Tax Incentives| Intermediate

This interactive session will feature case studies from states that have faced anti-conservation easement rhetoric and movements to change state legislation/funding that supports conservation. It will highlight how to successfully reposition and rebrand conservation to build bi-partisan support in conservative political climates. Come prepared to explore the fears, philosophies and political realities that inspired these challenges as well as offering your own examples and solutions.

  • Lynne Sherrod, Western Policy Manager, Land Trust Alliance Western Program (CO)
  • Michael Beam, Executive Director, Ranchland Trust of Kansas (KS)
  • Jay Leutze, Former Board Member, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (NC)
  • Edgar Miller, Director of Government Relations, Conservation Trust for North Carolina (NC)

1:30pm to 5:00pm:

FS01 1:30pm - 5:00pm | Federal Land Protection Roundtable: Land Protection Priorities, Support, and Funding Opportunities| Basic/Intermediate

Join the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Department of Defense (DoD), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) program leaders in a session focused on working together and with land trusts to develop a coordinated land protection opportunity. Program leaders will discuss overlapping priorities and look to advance a specific and mutually-beneficial land protection project where Land Trusts and other private organizations can incorporate funding and support from these multiple Federal sources. Session will consist of panel speakers, and moderated discussion with Federal program managers, established program partners, and interested state and regional stakeholders.

  • Nancy Natoli, Program Director, Department of Defense, Readiness and Environmental  Protection Initiative (VA)
  • Simi Batra, Realty Specialist, US Fish & Wildlife Service, Division of Realty (VA)

FS02 1:30pm - 5:00pm |Working with NRCS: Understanding the New Farm Bill and Beyond | Intermediate

The Farm Bill currently looms as a giant question mark in a tough budget climate. Hopefully the future will provide more certainty for land trusts that seek to tap into what has historically been the largest source of direct federal support for private land conservation. What does the future hold? How can your organization successfully qualify for and utilize this vitally important source of funding? Come participate in an interactive discussion with a well-versed panel regarding the specifics surrounding the upcoming Farm Bill, NRCS Conservation Easement Programs, the rulemaking process, certification and best practices for FRPP easements.

  • Lynne Sherrod, Western Policy Manager, Land Trust Alliance Western Program (CO)
  • Steven Parkin, Easement Programs Team Leader, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (DC)
  • Jeremy Stone, FRPP National Program Manager, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (DC)
  • Jane Ellen Hamilton, Conservation Attorney and Consultant, Hamilton Consulting (MT)

FS09b 3:30pm - 5:00pm | States’ Approaches to Perpetual Conservation Easement Amendment and Termination (CLE)| Intermediate

In the quest to provide clarity to easement holders and protect the integrity of perpetual conservation easements over time, several states have created guidance for amending and terminating perpetual conservation easements within their borders. Learn the approaches to easement amendment and termination implemented in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Montana from the practitioners and professionals involved in crafting these guidelines, policies, and laws. Discover the legal bases and practical application of these approaches, and how they fit within the existing framework of state and federal guidance for amending and terminating perpetual conservation easements.

  • Jessica Jay, Conservation Attorney, Conservation Law, P.C. (CO)
  • Karin Marchetti Ponte, General Counsel, Maine Coast Heritage Trust (ME)
  • Thomas Masland, Attorney, Ransmeier & Spellman, P.C. (NH)
  • Paul Doscher, Vice President for Land Conservation, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (NH)
  • Jay Erickson, Managing Director, Montana Land Reliance (MT)
  • Gil Livingston, President, Vermont Land Trust (VT)
  • Andrew Dana, Attorney at Law, Conservation Law Associates (MT)

FS10 1:30pm - 3:30pm | Creating New State Funding for Conservation: Alabama Forever Wild | Intermediate

In November 2012, Alabama voters over-whelming approved renewing funding for the state's Forever Wild land conservation program, approving the measure by 75 percent. Demonstrating once again that land conservation is not a partisan issue, on the same day, Alabama voters also voted overwhelming for Governor Mitt Romney for President. Learn the story of this successful ballot measure campaign -- including coalition building and development and delivery of key messages -- to win voter approval for $300 million in new state funding from key campaign insiders.

  • William Abberger, Director, Conservation Finance, The Trust for Public Land (FL)
  • Lori Weigel, Partner, Public Opinion Strategies (CO)
  • Hazel Wong, Senior Campaign Advisor, The Nature Conservancy (NV)


Again, these are just some highlights, you'll find many more policy-related sessions, including tax seminars and featured sessions with other federal partners on the Rally details page.

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Advocates Alerts

February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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