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Policy Events at Rally 2012

Join us in Salt Lake City, UT, September 29 - October 2  for dozens of policy-related seminars and workshops at Rally 2012.  Come learn how to lobby effectively, explore specific policy issues and funding opportunities and pose questions to the federal agencies that impact your work.

Click here to register!

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.

Saturday, September 29 -- Seminars


Featured Seminar -- Advocating for Conservation: How Do I Get from Here to There?

SEM-13 | Saturday, September 29, 9:00am - 5:00pm | Room 251C

$150 (member) / $180 (non-member)
Sticker shock? Stipends may be available. Contact

Everyone advocates for something. Are you effective and is it time well spent? This highly interactive course addresses the political opportunities and challenges facing land conservation. You will leave armed with an action plan and the necessary skills for building relationships with public officials and the media at the local, state and national levels. Case studies from across the country will help shed light on what works, what doesn't, and why.

Sunday, September 30 -- Seminars


Steve Small's Rally 2012 Tax Problems Roundtable

SEM- 24 | Sunday, September 30, 9:00am – 5:00pm | Room 250F
Intermediate/Advanced | $150 (member) /$180 (non-member)
Join in this lecture and roundtable discussion of both real and hypothetical tax planning issues and problems in land conservation work, with emphasis on spotting and solving complex tax issues and on trying to keep the IRS happy.  This includes:  (1) a look at the IRS Conservation Easement Audit Technique Guide and related checklist; (2) complicated tax and related issues that have come up in the instructor’s experience and in the experience of participants (participants will be asked to submit “cases” ahead of time); (3) “hypothetical” planning situations that may have not come up yet but scare people (participants will be asked to submit, etc.)

Monday, October 1 -- Workshops

Workshop Session A: Monday, October 1, 10:30am – Noon

A08. Land Use Planning and Land Trusts Part I: A Primer for Entering the Fray*

Room 250F

Land use planning is a political and legal process for determining the location, type, and pace of development in a community. The planning process provides a public forum that land trusts can utilize to achieve their mission. Participants will gain insight into how voluntary land conservation, land use planning, and land use regulations can complement each other to strengthen communities. Land trusts acting as conveners of public planning processes and farmland preservation efforts will be explored as hybrid approaches.

  • Ole Amundsen, Strategic Conservation Program Manager, The Conservation Fund (NY)
  • Thomas Daniels, Professor, University of Pennsylvania, Department of City & Regional Planning (PA)

. The Federal Tax Deductibility of Charitable Contributions of Water RightsCLE

Basic/Intermediate | Room 251C

Most landowners know that when it comes to appropriative water rights, it is "use it, or lose it." This historic perspective has had the effect of maximizing water diversions from streams and rivers to preserve rights at the expense of instream conservation values. Panel participants are the legal team of the Instream Water Transfers Coalition, comprised of leading-edge western water and tax experts who seek a binding IRS Revenue Ruling and interpretative clarification of the existing Internal Revenue Code related to the tax deductibility of charitable contributions of entire and certain partial interest deductions of appropriative water rights. The Coalition will provide legal background for this cutting-edge legal issue at the intersection of tax, water, and real property law.

  • Tom Hicks, Attorney, Resource Renewal Institute (CA)
  • William Silberstein, Lawyer, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP (CO)
  • William Hutton, Attorney at Law/Professor, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP (CA)
  • Laura Ziemer, Director, Montana Western Water Project, Trout Unlimited (MT)
  • Peter Nichols, Attorney At Law, Trout, Raley, Montaño, Witwer & Freeman, P.C. (CO)


A16. Do the Right ThingCLE

Advanced | Room 254B

This workshop examines how easement holders can “do the right thing” vis-a-vis Land Trust Standards and Practices, the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations, and recent common and statutory law regarding conservation easement transactions. Panelists will respond to a hypothetical scenario based on a real life situation, and will offer opinions based on their experience with and knowledge of existing guidance and developing laws. The hypothetical will challenge panelists to address the evolving landscape of conservation easement transactions by examining what it means to be a qualified holder/eligible donee, and how to ensure qualified gifts of perpetual conservation easements and their protected purposes endure, with flexibility and relevance, over time.

  • Jessica Jay, Conservation Attorney, Conservation Law, P.C. (CO)
  • Daniel Pike, President, Colorado Open Lands (CO)
  • Andrew Dana, Attorney at Law, Conservation Law Associates (MT)
  • Nancy McLaughlin, Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law (UT)
  • Karin Gross, Supervisory Attorney, Internal Revenue Service (DC)
  • Stephen Small, Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)

A19. Quantifying & Communicating the Economic Benefits of Land Conservation

Basic | Room 155A

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 Wyoming, Arizona, and Maine. 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 conservation.

  • Jessica Sargent-Michaud, Director, Conservation Economics, The Trust for Public Land (MA)
  • Daniel Stevens, Research Associate, The Trust for Public Land (CA)

A21. 2012 Farm Bill: What’s in it for Land Trusts?

All | Room 155B

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. This session will update participants on Farm Bill 2012 and what is to come for these important programs.   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)
  • Jill Atencio, FRPP/HFRP Program Manager, Natural Resources Conservation Services, USDA (DC)
  • Leslie Deavers, Special Assistant To the Chief, Strategic Natural Resources Initiatives, US Department of Agriculture-NRCS Farmland Protection & Community Planning Staff (DC)

Workshop Session B: Monday, October 1, 1:30pm – 3:00pm


B07. Winning Land Conservation Ballot Measures

All | Room 260A

  • William Abberger, Director, Conservation Finance, The Trust for Public Land (FL)

. Land Use Planning and Land Trusts Part II: Implementing Successful Conservation Programs

Basic | Room 250F

Private land trusts benefit (and benefit from) the public planning process. Planning is ideally suited to generating awareness, developing creative strategies, and forming partnerships capable of reaching ambitious goals even in hard times. These findings are reconfirmed by a study, published in 2012, of 24 high-achieving communities from around the country followed by examples from Chester County, Pennsylvania and Santa Cruz County, California, where land trust leadership and collaboration in planning have accomplished remarkable success.

  • Rick Pruetz, Principal, Planning & Implementation Strategies (CA)
  • Laura McClendon, Field Representative, Sempervirens Fund (CA)
  • John Theilacker, Associate Director, Brandywine Conservancy Environmental Management Center (PA)

B10. Keys to Effective Working Relationships between NGOs and the DOI Office of Valuation Services

Intermediate | Room 260B

In 2011, appraisal services within the Department of the Interior (DOI) were reorganized into the Office of Valuation Services (OVS). This workshop will inform land trusts about the policies and procedures for securing appraisals when OVS is involved, identify problem areas experienced in the past, and best practices moving forward. This may be particularly useful related to grant programs that now or in the future fall under the appraisal oversight of OVS.

  • Timothy Hansen, Client Service Manager - BLM Team, US Department of the Interior-Office of Valuation
    Services (CO)
  • Alan Front, CEO, Conservation Pathways, LLC (CA)

. Land Trusts and the Department of Defense: Protecting Land, Water and National Security

Basic | Room 150DEF

In recent years, land trusts and the military have found common ground protecting land surrounding installations across the US. Many western partnerships have considered protection of water rights and conserving water quality in their planning efforts and land conservation objectives. Learn from land trusts in California, Arizona and Nevada that have successfully planned for and executed protection of water rights and conserved groundwater supplies while ensuring compatible uses around military installations. Speakers will detail projects that protected desert water rights and conserved working lands that are compatible with the local military mission, while identifying issues and planning considerations that help to improve future land protection.

  • Nancy Natoli, Readiness & Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) Coordinator, Department of Defense (VA)
  • Robert Hill, Executive Director, Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo County (CA)
  • Deborah Keller, Senior Policy Representative for DoD Conservation Partnerships, The Nature Conservancy (FL)
  • Holly Richter, Director of Conservation, The Nature Conservancy (AZ)

. Advanced Tax Issues for Beginners and UpCLE

All | Room 155A

The workshop will include (1) an in-depth look at Section 170(h) of the tax code (the conservation easement statute) rules and not-so-obvious rules; (2)  an in-depth look at conservation easement valuation rules and misunderstandings; (3) a discussion of the tax benefits available to donors from conservation easement donations; (4) other tax issues in conservation easement transactions (i.e., donations by corporations and trusts; bargain sales). This is  Steve Small’s former “Preserving Family Lands” workshop with an updated title.

  • Stephen Small, Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)


B18. Federal Funding for Land Conservation and Opportunities for Success in the Lame Duck Session of Congress

Intermediate/Advanced | Room 251C

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 upcoming lame duck session of Congress and the many opportunities that it might provide. The tools we will assess are the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Federal Lands Transaction and Facilitation Act (FLTFA), and other funding mechanisms from the America's Great Outdoors report.

  • Alan Rowsome, Director of Conservation Funding, Wilderness Society (DC)
  • Maddy Pope, Director, National Outreach, The Trust for Public Land (MT)

. Countering Fears & Myths About Conservation Easements (Why is Our Good Work Under Attack?)

All | Room 251B

Forever is a long time and landowners deserve the opportunity to take a long hard look at this concept.  But how do you differentiate between honest concerns and misinformation? This interactive session will feature case studies from states that have fended off movements to change state legislation that supports conservation.  It will also detail the need for educational outreach as well as share strategies for success.  Come prepared to explore the fears and philosophies that inspired these attacks as well as offering your own examples and solutions.

  • Michael Beam, Executive Director, Ranchland Trust of Kansas (KS)
  • Dave Sands, Executive Director, Nebraska Land Trust (NE)

B21. Beyond Saving the Ranch: Current Successful Strategies for Landscape Scale Conservation in Western Ranchlands

Intermediate | Room 250C

Across the West, community-based organizations continue to succeed in conserving large landscapes. While conservation of private lands through easements remains a cornerstone of this work, landscape conservation also requires developing and implementing strategies for issues such as community and economic development, public lands policy and management, governance of public-private coalitions and conservation finance. Experienced leaders in these efforts will provide a dynamic overview of current successful strategies and approaches.

  • Michael Stevens, Principal, Pioneer Mountain Group (ID)
  • Gary Burnett, Executive Director, Blackfoot Challenge (MT)
  • Kristin Troy, Executive Director, Lemhi Regional Land Trust (ID)


Workshop Session C: Monday, October 1, 3:30pm – 5:00pm

C09. Birds, Windmills, Planes, Jobs and Water: Can They All Inhabit the Same Space?

Basic | Room 251C

Conservation, energy, military and community leaders will examine competing, conflicting and complementary aspects of the needs to protect critical habitat across sensitive species ranges, make space for renewable energy in support of national energy security, maintain adequate training land and airspace for the 21st century military and sustain healthy economies and water supplies. Case study and audience participation will focus on developing solutions for the Naval Weapons Training Facility and conservation credit trading range-wide to create flexibility for all stakeholders.

  • Nancy Natoli, Readiness & Environmental Protection Initiative (REPI) Coordinator, Department of Defense (VA)
  • Jeff Everett, Wildlife Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service (OR)
  • Todd Gartner, Senior Associate, Conservation Incentives & Markets, World Resources Institute (DC)
  • LCDR James Roche, US Navy
  • David Wolfe, Director, Conservation Science, Environmental Defense, Texas Office (TX)

. Working with the IRS

All | Room 155B

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

  • Stephen Small, Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)
  • Marc Caine, Attorney, Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel (DC)
  • Karin Gross, Supervisory Attorney, Internal Revenue Service (DC)
  • Ruth Madrigal, Attorney-adviser, Department of the Treasury, Office of Tax Policy (DC)
  • Ron Cerruti, Engineering and Valuation Territory Manager, Internal Revenue Service (CA)
  • Russell Shay, Director of Public Policy, Land Trust Alliance (DC)

Tuesday, October 2 -- Workshops

Workshop Session D: Tuesday, October 2, 10:30am – 12:00pm

D05. Community Forests: New Tools and Tactics

Basic | Room 155A

This workshop will discuss the major types of community forests-local government ownership, tribal forests, and nonprofit ownership, including land trusts-and best practices in making these forests true community assets. The session will also provide in depth information about the new U.S. Forest Service Communty Forest Program that provides matching grants for community forest acquistions. Finally, the session will look at complementary tools, such as the U.S. Forest Service Community Wood Energy Program.

  • Jad Daley, Climate Conservation Program Director, The Trust for Public Land (DC)
  • Kathryn Conant, Forest Legacy Program Manager, US Department of Agriculture Forest Service (DC)

. Trying Times: Important Lessons to be Learned from Recent Federal Tax Cases *CLE

Intermediate | Room 254B

The IRS has been aggressively auditing taxpayers who have donated conservation easements and claimed federal tax benefits, with a reported 1,459 landowners having been audited during 2005 to 2009. In addition, since 2006, the Tax Court, District Courts, and Circuit Courts have collectively issued twenty-three court decisions 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 “substantiation” and “perpetuity” issues.

  • Nancy McLaughlin, Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law (UT)
  • Stephen 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)

D18. Public Policy 2012 Update and 2013 Forum*

All | Room 251A

In this combined session, Land Trust Alliance’s director of public policy will discuss the current status of our 2012 public policy priorities and outline options for our work in 2013.  The latter part of this session is a forum for Land Trust Alliance members to discuss and provide input on the Alliance's public policy priorities for 2013 and how the public policy program can more effectively mobilize the broader land trust community on important policy issues.

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


Workshop Session E: Tuesday, October 2, 1:30pm – 3:00pm


E14. Understanding the IRS Conservation Easement Audit GuideCLE

Intermediate | Room 155A

In September 2011, the Internal Revenue Service published a 68-page Conservation Easement Audit Techniques Guide. In this workshop we will discuss several of the issues highlighted by the Audit Guide, the implications of the Audit Guide for conservation easement transactions, and how knowledge of the Audit Guide can inform designing conservation easement transactions that will conform with IRS published guidance. Participant input will be solicited and welcomed.

  • William Silberstein, Lawyer, Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell LLP (CO)
  • William Hutton, Attorney at Law/Professor, Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP (CA)

E16. Winning Funding and Friends at the Municipal Level

Basic | Room 260B

Growing numbers of municipal governments have passed open space referenda, adopted dedicated open space revenue sources, and are partnering with land trusts in a variety of ways. Partnerships with local government are potentially a great opportunity for land trusts to expand their reach -- but what do you do when the mayor says NO? Municipal officials are often unfamiliar with the workings of conservation transactions, and changes in leadership can dramatically alter expectations and resources for both planned acquisitions and long-term stewardship of open space lands.  Come learn about diverse cooperative roles for conservation already being played (with varying degrees of success) by land trusts and municipalities across the country. Hear how Alaska’s Great Land Trust used economic analysis and a grassroots campaign to convince a reluctant Mayor of Anchorage to accept the donation of a 60 acre coastal park. Then, Pennsylvania’s Brandywine Conservancy will discuss a broad range of existing and potential points of land trust/municipal partnerships for open space conservation, including the planning, prioritization, and public outreach efforts that surround a voter referendum and the policies necessary to ensure successful implementation of municipal open space programs.

  • John Snook, Senior Advisor, Brandywine Conservancy Environmental Management Center (PA)
  • Teddy Price, Senior Planner, Brandywine Conservancy (PA)
  • Phil Shephard, Executive Director, Great Land Trust (AK)

E18. USDA FRPP: Connect with Colleagues, A Facilitated Roundtable Discussion

Intermediate/Advanced | Room 250C

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 practitioners you could easily reach out to with FRPP-specific questions? This session is designed to bring together practitioners from across the county in a roundtable forum to learn from one another. Beginning with a 2012 FRPP overview; you’ll leave with a better understanding and an established network of practitioners.

  • Cari Watkins-Bates, Senior Land Projects Manager, Scenic Hudson, Inc. (NY)

Featured Sessions: Tuesday, October 2, 3:30pm – 5:00pm


FS06. Oil and Gas Exploration Can Work with Conservation Easements - SometimesCLE

Advanced | Room 254B

The conservation easement regulations permit oil and gas exploration and extraction, but 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.  This workshop, led by attorneys who 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 oil and gas exploration and a conservation easement will NOT work together, whether they MIGHT, and when, subject to appropriate limitations, they CAN work together.

  • Stephen Small, Attorney at Law, Law Office of Stephen J. Small, Esq., P.C. (MA)
  • Joseph Fitzsimons, Attorney, Uhl, Fitzsimons and Jewett PLLC (TX)



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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