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Policy Events at Rally 2011

Join us in Milwaukee, WI, October 13-16, 2011 for dozens of policy-related seminars and workshops.  Come learn how to lobby effectively, explore specific policy issues and funding opportunities and pose questions to the federal agencies that impact your work.

Also at Rally, the Public Policy 2011 Update and 2012 Forum (Saturday 1:30pm in Room 102E) is your opportunity to help set our policy priorities--what policies will help your conservation work the most?  See our memo describing these options and respond online at:

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.

Click here for Rally registration and complete details. The deadline for pre-registration is September 21, but you're also welcome to attend and register on-site.

Saturday, October 15

Workshops Session A – Saturday 10:00am - Noon

A19. Getting Public Officials To Support Land Conservation In A Volatile Fiscal And Political Climate

Convention Center Room 102E

In many ways, cultivating a relationship with an elected official is no different from cultivating a major donor – and it may be every bit as important to your land trust’s success. In this workshop you’ll learn practical pointers for building relationships with public officials at all levels of government, so the programs and tax incentives you rely on aren’t on the chopping block when times get tough. The centerpiece of this session is a case study of the successful campaign to pass the 2009 law creating the Wisconsin Working Lands Initiative (WLI). Learn how Gathering Waters Conservancy and American Farmland Trust organized a coalition effort to pass this law and how they amassed grassroots and grasstops forces to defend the program from efforts to repeal it. Land Trust Alliance staff will introduce additional examples from local land trusts and lead a brainstorm on how to get elected officials to actively support your work.

  • Michael Carlson, Government Relations Director, Gathering Waters Conservancy (WI)
  • Bill Berry, Board Member, Gathering Waters Conservancy (WI)
  • Sean Robertson, Public Policy Specialist, Land Trust Alliance (DC)
  • Bob Wagner, Senior Policy and Program Advisor, American Farmland Trust (MA)

Workshops Session B – Saturday 1:30pm - 3:30pm


B07. Communicating with Elected Officials and Voters to Win Land Conservation Ballot Measures

Convention Center Room 203B

Despite the continued economic recession, voters approved 84 percent of the land conservation funding measures on the ballot in 2010. While this result demonstrates that voters still support land conservation, winning that support in a time of economic uncertainty and convincing elected officials to refer measures to ballot in a time of significantly constrained state and local budgets is increasingly difficult. Learn from the nation’s top pollsters about how to communicate the benefits of land conservation to elected officials voters to win their support. This workshop will features case studies of successful state and local ballot and legislative measures during the recession -- including New Jersey, Iowa, and Oregon -- that highlight the keys to winning in this challenging environment.

  • Will Abberger, Director of Conservation Finance, The Trust for Public Land (FL)
  • David Metz, Partner, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) (CA)
  • Lori Weigel, Partner, Public Opinion Strategies (CO)


B18. Public Policy 2011 Update and 2012 Forum*

Convention Center Room 102E

In this combined session, Land Trust Alliance’s director of public policy will discuss the current status of our 2011 public policy priorities and outline options for our work in 2012.  The latter part of this session is an open meeting of the Alliance's Policy Advisory Council, allowing Land Trust Alliance members an opportunity to discuss and provide input on the Alliance's public policy program, and what it should focus on in 2012.  The Policy Advisory Council, consisting of land trust leaders from across the country, is seeking your input before making formal recommendations to the Alliance board later this year.

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


Workshop Session C – Saturday 4:00pm - 5:30pm


C18. Working with the IRS

Convention Center Room 102E

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

  • Marc Caine, Attorney, Internal Revenue Service (NY)
  • Ron Cerruti, Engineering and Valuation Territory Manager, Internal Revenue Service (CA)
  • Karin Gross, Supervisory Attorney, Internal Revenue Service (DC)
  • Russell Shay, Director of Public Policy, Land Trust Alliance (DC)
  • Stephen Small, Esq., Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)


Saturday, October 15, 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Come Have a Beer with the Policy Team (and discuss plans for 2012)

Buck Bradley’s Pub, 1019 Old World 3rd Street

Already have a “B” Workshop and can’t join us for the 2012 Forum? Didn’t get a chance to speak your mind? After a busy Saturday, we’ll head a few blocks north and grab a table near the bar in Buck Bradley’s Pub. Please just show up, speak your mind and get the inside scoop. Note that we’ll be downstairs, separate from the Yale reception upstairs – call Sean Robertson’s cell at 202-425-4047 if you have trouble finding us.


Sunday, October 16

Workshops Session D – Sunday 10:30am - Noon


D15. Conservation Tax Credits: Version 2011

Convention Center Room 202B

State tax credits for land conservation are not new. However, over the last couple of years, this effective land conservation tool has seen some major changes. Tough economic times coupled with some substantial abuses in Colorado have resulted in a statewide cap on the tax credits. Virginia enacted a cap a few years ago as well. This session will cover the impacts these caps have had on their states - with respect to land trusts, the taxpayers and land conservation as a whole. This session will also cover how Colorado is grappling with the potential of a mass litigation of over 500 conservation easements – most of which are the result of past abuses. How the state handles these easements will be impact larger issues from easement extinguishment to "orphaned easements" to the ultimate effect on the public perception of conservation easements and their attendant tax benefits. This session will be informal and questions and comments will be encouraged.

  • Michael Strugar, Director/Attorney, Conservation Resource Center (CO)

D16. Saving Conserved Land From Electric Transmission Lines

Convention Center Room 203E

In an alarming trend over the last few years, large swaths of farms, forests and wildlands permanently protected for the benefit of the public have been targeted for the siting of energy infrastructure projects. As the U.S. moves toward a clean energy future, the push for rapid development of low carbon energy and new transmission lines should not, as an unintended consequence, undo years of work and public and private investment in conservation. This session will provide examples of threats to conserved lands from transmission lines and what land trusts can do to protect easements.

  • Andrea Oliver, Land Trust Alliance Consultant (DC)
  • Chris Miller, President, Piedmont Environmental Council (VA)
  • Dan Pike, President, Colorado Open Lands (CO)



Workshops Session E – Sunday 1:30pm -3:00pm


E06. Effective Advocacy for State Land Conservation Funding

Convention Center Room 203E

Many states are reducing funding to state land conservation programs as a result of fiscal challenges. Effective coalitions and advocacy to defend or enhance state conservation funding are critical in this environment. Despite these challenges, there have been successful campaigns to defend existing or create new state conservation funds in recent years. This workshop will share lessons from successful coalitions and campaigns, including the 2010 I WiLL campaign, that can be transferred to help defend or enhance conservation funds in other states.

  • Tom Gilbert, Senior Conservation Finance Director, The Trust for Public Land (PA)
  • Andy Tuck, Senior Advisor - Conservation Campaigns, The Nature Conservancy (VA)
  • Mark Ackelson, President, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation (IA)


E12. The Case for Conservation Easement Enabling Act Reform

Convention Center Room 101A

Your conservation easement enabling statute is not important. Until it is. Based on the 2010 Alliance report "A Guided Tour of the Conservation Easement Enabling Statutes," this workshop will delve into the strengths and weaknesses of various state enabling statutes. We will address how the various statutes address (or fail to address!) issues such as third party standing, amendment, and termination, among others. Finally, we will hear from people in various states who have successfully amended their respective statutes.

  • Rob Levin, Attorney At Law, Law Office of Robert H. Levin (ME)


E14. The Economic Benefits of Land Conservation

Convention Center Room 203C

Increasingly land trusts need to strategically communicate the economic benefits and fiscal impacts of land conservation to local government officials and the public. This session addresses this need by teaching participants how to talk about the economics of conservation using recently released case studies across the country. 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 support land conservation.

  • Jessica Sargent-Michaud, Director, Conservation Economics, The Trust for Public Land (MA)


E15. Federal Funding for Land Conservation: America's Great Outdoors, Land and Water Conservation Fund

Convention Center Room 203B

This session will examine recent developments in Congress and the Administration to provide consistent and robust funding for land conservation, including how we can influence the new 'super-committee' that was formed during the debate over the debt ceiling. The tools we will assess are the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) program and other funding mechanisms -- including those from the America's Great Outdoors Report -- highlighted in the 2012 budget. We will make the case for the land trust community to engage in the LWCF campaign and the broader federal funding battle this Fall that has major long term implications for conservation. We will explore case studies utilizing LWCF to advance large landscape conservation involving public and private lands. Presentations will include integrating and understanding the direct benefits to local communities and the national economy by investing in land conservation, especially during these tough economic times.

  • Michael Dennis, Government Relations, The Nature Conservancy (OR)
  • Jay Leutze, Trustee, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (NC)
  • Maddy Pope, Director of National Outreach, Federal Affairs, The Trust for Public Land (MT)
  • Alan Rowsome, Director of Conservation Funding, The Wilderness Society (DC)


Featured Sessions – Sunday 3:30pm - 5:00pm


2012 Farm Bill Strategies and Updates

Convention Center Room 102E

Farm bill conservation programs are the largest source of federal funding for private land conservation and once every five years we have a chance to change funding levels and how those funds are delivered. The 2008 Farm Bill greatly increased the availability of direct funding for land trusts to acquire and hold conservation easements. As Congress begins work on the 2012 Farm Bill we want to hear your ideas for how to make these programs more useable for land trusts and landowners. Come participate in an interactive discussion with NRCS officials about the upcoming Farm Bill, NRCS Conservation Easement Programs and NRCS Conservation Initiatives. Together we can strategize about how the land trust community can not only work together but also with NRCS to maximize conservation funding in a tough budget climate.

  • Lynne Sherrod, Western Policy Manager, Land Trust Alliance Western Program (CO)
  • Andrée DuVarney, Director Easement Program Divisions, U.S. D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service (DC)
  • Leslie Deavers, Farm Bill Coordinator, U.S. D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service (DC)
  • Pat Leavenworth, State Conservationist, U.S. D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service (WI)
  • Russ Shay, Director of Public Policy, Land Trust Alliance (DC)




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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