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Conservation Defense Advisory Council

We are delighted to announce that 19 national conservation leaders accepted the Land Trust Alliance invitation to serve on the Conservation Defense Advisory Council. Members of the Advisory Council will help shape national strategies to address the many challenges facing land trusts in America.

The Advisory Council Charter is available for your information. Please feel free to call or write to any Council member with comments on conservation defense as well as to Leslie Ratley-Beach, Land Trust Alliance Conservation Defense Director,, 802-262-6051.

The Land Trust Alliance recently launched its Conservation Defense Initiative to help land trusts defend their easements and fee-owned land and to ensure that conservation easements remain a viable legal tool. The conservation easement is one of the most effective legal tools to permanently protect privately owned land, but we are seeing a troubling rise in violations and litigation intended to break easements as well as to trespass on land trust owned land. Land trusts now hold more than 24,000 easements and the use of easements is growing quickly. Conservation easements are a very new legal tool – only in wide use for the past 25 years – and currently little case law exists.

The purpose of the Conservation Defense Advisory Council is to recommend actions for implementation of and improvements in the Conservation Defense Initiative designed to assist attorneys and conservationists keep the promise of conservation permanence. The Initiative includes a Conservation Defense Center, Network and Forum, and Fund. The Council will also assist the Alliance with investigation of the feasibility of Conservation Defense Insurance.

The Advisory Council will advise the Alliance conservation defense director on all aspects of the Initiative; actively assist with preparation, review and maintenance of the conservation defense clearinghouse; assist with continuing legal education curriculum and a legal curriculum for land trust staff, boards and volunteers; make recommendations regarding amicus briefs relating to the Conservation Defense Fund; participate in regional and national gatherings on conservation defense; and assist with strategic guidance on the feasibility study, marketing, policy development and coverage issues for Conservation Defense Insurance. The Advisory Council will also be available to advise and counsel the Alliance on conservation defense matters of national significance.

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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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