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Conservation Based Estate Planning for Pennsylvania Forest Landowners

In Pennsylvania, almost 10 million acres are owned by individuals, families, partnerships, hunt clubs and other non-corporate ownerships. These private forest landowners own their land for myriad values, yet the majority, 57%, wish their land to stay in their families, and hope their beneficiaries will be able to care well for the woods. Few currently take advantage of or intend to use tools that consider land conservation beyond the current tenure. Significant proportions of these acreages are projected to change ownership over the next 10 years as the baby boomers divest or pass the asset onto their heirs or beneficiaries. The Conservation Based Estate Planning (CBEP) model aims to help interested landowners honor their love for their land and desire for its long-term stewardship. It strives to achieve this by providing the next owner, whether known or not, the largest, intact block of functioning forest as possible. This workshop provides a “look under the hood” at the stages within the CBEP process, illustrated in a model developed from research supported by the Center for Private Forests at Penn State and derived from data collected through interviews with over two dozen estate attorneys and financial planning professionals on forest legacy planning with their clients. The goal of the project was to provide forest landowners with a “crib sheet” or “guide” to the planning professionals’ perceptions of the stages within the process, framing the options, opportunities, and challenges they may encounter. Recognizing that the time at which land changes hands represents a critical juncture in the continuity of land use, achieving a greater level of CBEP through empowering landowners to identify, prioritize, and achieve their long-term stewardship and legacy objectives will advance opportunities to maintain contiguous core forest blocks across the landscape. Conservation organizations engage landowners through a wide array of messaging, but with ultimate goals of land conservation. This workshop will give an overview of forest landowners’ future plans and needs, present the new model and tools for supporting landowners interested in legacy planning, and conclude with a facilitated discussion focused on identifying opportunities for introducing CBEP into conservation organization work.