Print Editions of WeConservePA Guides

Adding to Land Under Conservation Easement

2020
A landowner has land under conservation easement and is ready to conserve more of their nearby property. How best to carry this out?
Last Modified
Aug 29, 2020
Viewed
2623 times

Addressing Climate Change and Carbon Sequestration in Conservation Easements

2023
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
The reality of climate change brought on by increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere presents challenges to conservation practitioners. This guide examines how conservation easements may be better planned to deliver good conservation outcomes even as a changing climate affects the physical conditions on the land. The guide also reviews opportunities to boost carbon sequestration on lands under easement. WeConservePA guide. 12 pages.
Last Modified
Aug 22, 2023
Viewed
886 times

Adverse Possession in Pennsylvania

2020
A long-time trespasser may gain ownership of land by using it with no documented challenge for 21 years. Landowners can avoid this threat with some good, basic practices.
Last Modified
Jun 08, 2021
Viewed
2662 times

Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program

The Pennsylvania Agricultural Conservation Easement Purchase Program enables state and county governments to purchase conservation easements on productive farms. The easements protect the farmland from non-agricultural development. (print edition of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Aug 31, 2017
Viewed
6797 times

Agricultural Protection Zoning

2011
Agricultural Protection Zoning preserves the availability of agricultural lands for farming and thus the agricultural base of the community by constraining non-agricultural development and land uses in designated areas.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
6272 times

Agricultural Security Areas: Protecting Farms from Condemnation and Unreasonably Restrictive Ordinances

2017
Within an agricultural security area (ASA), a farm is entitled to special protection from condemnation and laws and ordinances that would unreasonably restrict farming operations. Local governments in Pennsylvania may establish ASAs but only in response to petitions from landowners interested in enrolling their land in an ASA.
Last Modified
Apr 26, 2017
Viewed
6129 times

Amend OR Amend and Restate: Matching Approach to Situation When Making Changes to a Conservation Easement

2023
If changes to a conservation easement are necessary or desirable, the easement holder must decide whether to amend and restate the grant of easement in full or simply amend it. This guide assists with that decision and points to resources to aid in implementation of the decision. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
Last Modified
Sep 22, 2023
Viewed
691 times

A Scientific Foundation for Shaping Riparian Buffer Protection Regulations

2014
Authors: Wesley R. Horner
(print edition of ConservationTools.org guide) Extensive scientific research documents that vegetated strips of land along water bodies provide extensive water quality and other environmental benefits. The science shows that development should be kept away from the water's edge, wider protected strips provide greater benefits, forested buffers are more effective than grassy ones, and forested buffers in headwaters provide the greatest benefits of all.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
4987 times

Authorization of Real Estate Transactions: Rules and Process for Nonprofits

2023
Within the bounds of state law and private standards of practice, nonprofit organizations have considerable flexibility in establishing policies and procedures regarding the authorization of real estate transactions. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 27, 2023
Viewed
7141 times

Beneficiaries and Backup Holders: Providing Third Parties With Rights but Not Responsibilities Regarding Conservation Easements

2024
A grant of conservation easement may provide one or more rights to a party other than the landowner and holder of the easement, in accordance with the needs and wishes of those involved with the easement transaction. Unlike for the easement holder, such rights received by the “beneficiary” do not come with obligations. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 29, 2024
Viewed
306 times

Biodiversity: A Guide

2012
Authors: Elana Richman
Biodiversity encompasses the diversity of life – the varying and different species, genes, and ecosystems of the Earth. The ongoing loss of biodiversity threatens human well-being and makes the need for conservation ever more pressing.
Last Modified
Jul 03, 2019
Viewed
5191 times

Bird Research and Conservation

2017
Authors: Nate Lotze
Initiatives in Pennsylvania and on a national level promote the study of bird populations and the protection of their habitat.
Last Modified
Jul 03, 2019
Viewed
3515 times

Bridge Loans for Conservation Purchases: Borrowing from Revolving Loan Funds

2023
When an organization must close on a real estate transaction prior to securing all the necessary funds, borrowing will be necessary for the deal to proceed. Several organizations manage revolving loan funds that provide low and no interest, short-term financing specifically to facilitate land and easement purchases for conservation purposes. WeConservePA guide. 9 pages.
Last Modified
Nov 22, 2023
Viewed
5050 times

Build-Out Analysis

2017
Authors: Patty Elkis and Nate Lotze
A build-out analysis projects the development that could occur in an area under current law. It enables a community to test the reality of its development regulations against its vision for its future.
Last Modified
May 24, 2017
Viewed
6254 times

Carbon Rights and Assignment of Carbon Credit Sale Proceeds: Providing Conservation Easement Holders the Potential to Receive Carbon-Related Benefits

2023
The possibility of granting carbon rights to the easement holder may be considered during the development of a conservation easement. This presents substantial complexity that can be avoided by instead giving the holder control over the entity that may receive carbon credits or assigning to the holder some or all of the proceeds of sale of carbon credits. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
Last Modified
Aug 22, 2023
Viewed
616 times

Clean and Green: Pennsylvania's Preferential Tax Assessment Program

2017
Clean and Green, established by the Pennsylvania Farmland and Forest Land Assessment Act, provides for lower property tax assessments of land capable of producing agricultural products and timber or providing open space for public use. (Print version of CT guide)
Last Modified
Nov 14, 2017
Viewed
3711 times

Climate Change and Land Conservation

2019
Authors: Nate Lotze
Land trusts and governments may tailor their land conservation work to help both reduce carbon in the atmosphere and mitigate the harm of climate change. (Print version of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Jun 17, 2019
Viewed
1597 times

Closing: Finalizing the Real Estate Transaction

2012
At closing, the transfer of the real estate interest, whether land or easement, is completed. This guide helps users organize and expedite the closing.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
6784 times

Co-Holding Conservation Easements: Considerations for Good Management and Conservation Outcomes

2024
A conservation easement may be granted to multiple entities. These holders of the easement are then each responsible for upholding the easement’s conservation objectives. The respective roles of the holders and their relationship to one another must be carefully delineated to achieve effective easement management and minimize potential conflict. WeConservePA guide. 10 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 29, 2024
Viewed
5591 times

Collaborative Opportunities for Land Trusts

2012
Authors: Nicole Faraguna
Many types of collaborative approaches are available to help land trusts and others advance land conservation. This guide identifies opportunities for collaboration, provides guidance in structuring productive collaborations, and presents examples of successful organizational partnerships.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
5848 times

Commission-Based Compensation Fundraising

2012
Commission-based compensation for fundraising by staff and consultants, although legal, is widely viewed as a bad practice for nonprofits.
Last Modified
May 23, 2019
Viewed
6790 times

Community Visioning

2023
Community visioning is a planning tool that empowers people to express a vision for the future of their community; ideally, this vision guides land-use decisions and regulations. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 16, 2023
Viewed
2506 times

CommunityViz®

2017
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
CommunityViz® software enables users to see what different land use and development scenarios would look like if they were to actually occur. It allows users to create hypothetical scenarios and assess the economic, environmental, social, and visual impacts of those scenarios. (Print version of CT guide)
Last Modified
Nov 14, 2017
Viewed
3777 times

Conservation by Design

2019
Authors: Nate Lotze and Ann Hutchinson
By making straightforward changes to municipal land-use ordinances, Conservation by Design helps communities protect open space and natural resources at essentially no cost and without reducing the rights of landowners and developers to develop their land. (Print version of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Jan 22, 2019
Viewed
2501 times

Conservation Easements: An Introduction for Private Landowners

2018
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
A conservation easement limits certain uses of the land in order to advance one or more conservation objectives while keeping the land in the owner’s control. It is established by mutual agreement of a landowner and a private land trust or government. (WeConservePA guide; 5 pages)
Last Modified
Jul 01, 2021
Viewed
6227 times

Conservation Easements in Court: A Review of Easement Violation and Enforcement Litigation in Pennsylvania

2024
A review of Pennsylvania judicial decisions reveals that conservation easement holders and the conservation values they uphold prevail when a dispute leads to litigation. Courts respect the text of easement documents and their conservation purposes. This guide reviews eleven cases where the interpretation or enforcement of a conservation easement was at the center of litigation. WeConservePA guide. 12 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 03, 2024
Viewed
2136 times

Cost of Community Services Studies

2024
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
Cost of Community Services studies examine both the tax revenues generated by different land uses and the costs to local government of providing services to those same uses. They help people understand the fiscal outcomes of keeping land in agriculture or as open space versus developing land for other purposes. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 02, 2024
Viewed
3961 times

Costs of Conservation Easement Stewardship

2011
The holder of a conservation easement must monitor the eased property to confirm compliance with conservation restrictions and, when necessary, take action to uphold the conservation objectives of the easement. These and other stewardship activities result in costs, year in and year out, to the holder.
Last Modified
May 19, 2020
Viewed
7396 times

Costs of Due Diligence in Conservation Acquisitions

2011
To responsibly accomplish a conservation easement or land acquisition, due diligence is necessary. This guide describes the costs incurred by land trusts and agricultural land preservation boards in completing surveys, baseline documentation, appraisals, title search and insurance, phase 1 environmental assessments and legal services in support of conservation acquisitions.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
6079 times

Creating Sustainable Community Parks, 2nd Edition

2010
Authors: Jessica Sprajcar
Outlines the benefits of enhancing the natural resources in local parks and other landscapes, to maintain these areas in a sustainable manner, and to provide a step-by-step guide to help staff and volunteers achieve those results. It is directed primarily towards those charged with the design and maintenance of parklands, retail centers, housing developments, industrial parks, schools and other land uses, although the principles outlined in the book could also be used by individual homeowners.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
8569 times

Donation Agreements

2023
A donation agreement may be used to ensure that a donor’s promise can be relied upon, set the expectations of both donor and donee, and prevent misunderstandings. WeConservePA guide. 7 pages.
Last Modified
Mar 14, 2023
Viewed
8785 times

Donation by Will: Options and Issues Regarding Gifts of Cash, Land and Other Property

2023
Donors who want to help a worthy charity but also need to ensure that they have sufficient assests to live comfortably until life's end may choose to make some gifts via their wills. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
Mar 14, 2023
Viewed
4281 times

Donation of Stock and Other Securities

2018
For both donors and recipients, the donation of stock and other marketable securities can be more advantageous than a cash donation.
Last Modified
Oct 10, 2023
Viewed
2643 times

Don't Regulate Rooftop Solar Without Compelling Cause

2022
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
Regulation of rooftop solar energy systems through municipal zoning ordinances results in fewer people powering their homes and businesses with clean, safe, renewable energy. Common arguments for regulation are not compelling. (print version of WeConservePA guide; 2 pages)
Last Modified
Jun 10, 2022
Viewed
2175 times

Drafting an Amendment and Restatement of a Grant of Conservation Easement

2023
The Model Grant of Conservation Easement and Declaration of Covenants may be modified to amend and restate a grant of conservation easement by following the instructions below. WeConservePA guide. 4 pages.
Last Modified
Sep 22, 2023
Viewed
5929 times

Economic Benefits of Biodiversity

2011
Economic impact studies document the many and substantial economic benefits generated by biodiversity. This guide identifies major studies, summarizes key findings of each and provides hyperlinks to the studies.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
10803 times

Economic Benefits of Land Conservation: A Guide

2011
The conservation of natural lands and of working farms and forests can generate financial returns, both to governments and individuals, and create significant cost savings. [Print version of ConservationTools.org guide]
Last Modified
Jul 30, 2020
Viewed
7092 times

Economic Benefits of Parks

2011
(print edition of ConservationTools.org guide) Economic impact studies document the many and substantial economic benefits generated by parks. This guide identifies major studies, summarizes key findings of each and provides hyperlinks to the studies. 11 pages
Last Modified
Sep 01, 2015
Viewed
6592 times

Economic Benefits of Smart Growth and Costs of Sprawl

2011
Sprawling patterns of development create heavy economic burdens -- problems, costs and liabilities far in excess of the benefits. Conversely, smart growth strategies can enhance economic vitality.
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
6113 times

Economic Benefits of Trails

2011
(print edition of ConservationTools.org guide) Economic impact studies document the many and substantial economic benefits generated by trails. This guide identifies major studies, summarizes key findings of each and provides hyperlinks to the studies. 14 pages
Last Modified
Apr 27, 2017
Viewed
6992 times

Effective Email Newsletters for Nonprofits

2021
Email newsletters can help nonprofits better publicize their work and connect with supporters. This brief guide provides links to web articles that explain how to create effective email newsletters that engage, educate, and entertain your audience. Most of the resources focus specifically on nonprofit newsletters, though many of the strategies apply to newsletters for businesses as well.
Last Modified
Apr 29, 2021
Viewed
2317 times

Elections and 501(c)(3) Organizations

2019
Authors: Nate Lotze and Elana Richman
Federal tax rules prohibit section 501(c)(3) organizations from participating or intervening in a political campaign in support of or in opposition to a candidate for elected public office. However, organizations may lobby, educate voters, encourage voter registration and participation, and advocate for issues in a nonpartisan manner. (Print version of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Apr 26, 2019
Viewed
1866 times

Endowments and More

2022
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
Endowments and quasi-endowments help organizations establish long-term financial stability. This guide explains the basics; provides links to resources that address creating, managing, and fundraising for these funds; and describes the practices of 10 land trusts. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
Nov 19, 2022
Viewed
2358 times

Ensuring the Permanence of Parks and Other Public Open Space: Safeguards for Lands Entrusted to Local Government

2024
What legal principles provide the means to reasonably protect parks and other public open spaces? What can local governments do to best ensure that these principles can be successfully applied to any particular property? This guide addresses these questions in the interest of minimizing misunderstandings and conflict regarding public lands, helping local governments take informed action for the public’s benefit, and educating all interested parties regarding the nature of protections provided to public lands under the law. WeConservePA guide. 15 pages. (DRAFT FOR PEER REVIEW)
Last Modified
Apr 29, 2024
Viewed
135 times

Environmental Advisory Council: A Versatile Arm for Pennsylvania Local Government

2020
Any municipality in Pennsylvania may establish an environmental advisory council to tap the skills and volunteer energy of its citizens. Consisting of three to seven members appointed by the local government, an EAC can undertake a variety of conservation projects. It can also research issues and advise local government officials to help inform decision-making regarding the environment.
Last Modified
Oct 30, 2020
Viewed
5977 times

Farmland Preservation Options for Landowners: Government and Private Approaches to Conservation Easements in Pennsylvania

2023
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
Fifty-eight Pennsylvania counties have agricultural land preservation boards that purchase agricultural conservation easements. Sixty-eight private, charitable land trusts accept donations of conservation easements or, less commonly, purchase them. These two paths to farmland preservation differ in many ways. WeConservePA guide. 4 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 31, 2023
Viewed
4426 times

Floristic Quality Assessment

2019
Authors: Nate Lotze
Floristic Quality Assessment (FQA) is a standardized assessment method that calculates a numerical index reflecting the quality of native plant communities for a given area. It indicates the impacts of invasive species and can also be used to monitor the effectiveness of land-management and restoration practices. (Print version of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Jun 17, 2019
Viewed
4650 times

From Lawn to Meadow: Protect Water, Provide Habitat, Save Money

2017
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
Converting areas covered by turf grass to meadows can be financially rewarding and relatively simple on both public and private land. It can also deliver substantial environmental and aesthetic benefits. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
Oct 06, 2022
Viewed
4502 times

Funding Conservation Easement Stewardship: Your Role as the Land's Owner and Conservation Champion

2022
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
In accepting a conservation easement from you, the land trust takes on the responsibility of ensuring that the land is conserved as you have agreed for all time. Fulfilling this duty requires financial resources most likely to come from you or subsequent owners of the land. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Oct 12, 2023
Viewed
1354 times

Gift of a Future Interest in Real Estate: Reserved Life Estates Keep Owners in Control During Their Lifetimes

2023
Landowners can convey a future interest in real property to a conservation organization or government but continue to live on or otherwise enjoy using the property during their lifetimes. If the property is a personal residence or a farm, a donation of a future interest can generate immediate tax benefits. WeConservePA guide. 8 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 17, 2023
Viewed
5684 times

Global Positioning System (GPS)

2017
GPS enables users to easily record the location of natural and man-made features on the land. It allows users to identify where a photo or video is taken, revisit previously recorded features, and more. (Print version of CT guide)
Last Modified
Nov 14, 2017
Viewed
2940 times

Green Burial

2023
Green burials minimize negative environmental impacts by using biodegradable materials, avoiding toxic chemicals, and occurring on land maintained using good conservation practices. WeConservePA guide, 2 pages.
Last Modified
Dec 18, 2023
Viewed
1759 times

Guidelines for Conservation Easement Amendments, Waivers, and Letters of Interpretation

2024
Conservation easements are intended to last—to ensure protection of important resources, no matter people’s whims—through the decades and centuries. However, the world changes and so do understandings of how best to meet conservation objectives. A land trust must be prepared to address these changes in order to ensure that its conservation work is effective while assuring its supporters and the public that it is a reliable agent of conservation. This resource serves as a guide to responsible decision-making regarding potential amendments of grants of conservation easement. WeConservePA guide. 20 pages.
Last Modified
May 15, 2024
Viewed
15115 times

Guide to Pennsylvania's Recreational Use of Land and Water Act: A Law Limiting the Liability of Those Who Open Their Land to the Public

2019
The Recreational Use of Land and Water Act limits the liability of property owners who open their land to the public for recreation. This guide describes the immunity provided to owners in regards to claims of personal injury and loss of property and reviews relevant case law. (print version of WeConservePA guide; 6 pages)
Last Modified
May 16, 2022
Viewed
11037 times

Guide to the Conservation and Preservation Easements Act: Pennsylvania Act 29 of 2001

2024
Conservation organizations can avoid many potential difficulties in conservation easement stewardship by ensuring that their conservation easement documents are drafted to conform with the Conservation and Preservation Easements Act. WeConservePA guide. 7 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 06, 2024
Viewed
9018 times

Hiring and Managing Interns

2020
Interns can help nonprofit organizations to cost-effectively accomplish more. They also present a pathway for the organization to cultivate potential future employees and introduce new people to the field.
Last Modified
Nov 02, 2020
Viewed
1543 times

Impacts of Natural Land Loss on Water Quality

2012
Authors: Elana Richman
Forests, riparian buffers, wetlands and other natural lands are essential for the protection of water quality and aquatic habitat.
Last Modified
Jul 03, 2019
Viewed
5984 times

Indemnity Agreements and Liability Insurance: Protection From Claims Brought by Third Parties

2023
An individual or organization’s risk of being held liable for personal injury or property damage may be shifted to another party who agrees to accept the risk and who holds liability insurance or sufficient assets to back up the acceptance of the risk. A release agreement guards against a successful lawsuit by the person signing the release; an indemnity agreement, in contrast, ensures that if some other person sues, the indemnifying party will be responsible for handling the claim. WeConservePA guide. 8 pages.
Last Modified
Mar 24, 2024
Viewed
6120 times

Installment Agreement

2024
The seller of real estate may finance the buyer’s purchase of a property. An installment agreement requires the buyer to pay the seller the purchase price in installments over time. Both the buyer and the seller may benefit from such an agreement. Payment amounts and timing can be structured in an infinite variety of ways and tailored to best meet the needs of both parties. WeConservePA guide. 7 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 09, 2024
Viewed
5646 times

Invasive Species Management Program

2009
Invasive species management programs help minimize the harm of invasive species on natural lands and encourage the health of native plants and wildlife.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
3988 times

Land Trust Accreditation

2024
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission offers outside verification that a land trust conforms with a key set of practices within Land Trust Standards and Practices. Accreditation is voluntary. A land trust should weigh the advantages of rigorous, external review against the opportunity costs of obtaining and maintaining accredited status. WeConservePA guide, 7 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 27, 2024
Viewed
4325 times

Land Trust Merger Case Studies

2014
Authors: Nicole Faraguna
This guide describes the catalysts for exploring merger, the exploration and due diligence process, and the outcomes of several consolidations of land trusts with land trusts as well as land trusts with other charitable organizations.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
5296 times

Land Trust Standards and Practices: Guidelines for the Responsible Operation of a Land Trust

2023
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
The Land Trust Standards and Practices are widely accepted ethical and technical guidelines for the responsible operation of land trusts. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
Last Modified
Apr 06, 2023
Viewed
3735 times

Legal Considerations for Stewardship Funding Arrangements: Binding Present and Future Landowners to Present Promises

2012
A landowner may agree to one or more funding arrangements that require the landowner or successor owners of an eased property to make one or more payments to the easement holder to support stewardship of the property. An understanding of what makes promises binding is critical for crafting arrangements that are enforceable over time. WeConservePA guide. 14 pages.
Last Modified
Oct 19, 2023
Viewed
8752 times

Legal Considerations in Amending Grants of Conservation Easement

2024
This guide informs easement holders, particularly private land trusts, of legal matters to consider under Pennsylvania law and the Internal Revenue Code when making decisions regarding the amendment of grants of conservation easement. WeConservePA guide. 18 pages. NOTE THAT THIS NEW EDITION OF THE GUIDE IS STILL IN DRAFT FORM AND UNDERGOING PEER REVIEW.
Last Modified
May 02, 2024
Viewed
6877 times

Lobbying Rules and 501(c)3 Organizations

2012
Authors: Elana Richman
501(c)3 organizations may lobby to affect government policy outcomes, but they must follow federal and state regulations. WeConservePA guide. 18 pages.
Last Modified
Aug 18, 2022
Viewed
6740 times

Local Land Use Planning and Controls in Pennsylvania

2023
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
This guide describes the basic elements of land use planning and regulation available to municipal and county governments under the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 28, 2023
Viewed
2216 times

Local Regulation for Historic Preservation

2011
Authors: John Snook and Andrew M. Loza
Local municipal regulations can provide substantial protection to historic resources, preserving their contributions to cultural vitality and helping communities maintain quality of life.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
6413 times

Making Restricted Gifts: Impacts of Restrictions on Charitable Tax Deductions

2024
Donors of land, cash, or other property may desire to place restrictions on a gift to ensure it is used only for specific purposes. To what extent might such restrictions limit or disallow a charitable tax deduction? What should a donor consider before making a restricted gift? WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
May 10, 2024
Viewed
322 times

Management of the Document Preparation Process

2023
When a real estate transaction document needs to be reviewed, edited, or approved by more than one person, good document management and control practices help prevent time-consuming missteps and confusion for all the parties involved. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
Last Modified
Jun 13, 2023
Viewed
6258 times

Merger: An Introduction for Conservation Organizations

2013
Authors: Nicole Faraguna
A land trust may merge with another land trust or other conservation organization in order to more effectively advance the goals of each organization.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
4572 times

Model Documents Overview

2024
WeConservePA develops and maintains model documents to help users plan and complete real property transactions, ensure conservation permanence, reduce liability, and otherwise advance their conservation, outdoor recreation, and land use planning efforts efficiently and effectively. WeConservePA guide, 7 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 12, 2024
Viewed
7202 times

Multi-Municipal Cooperation for Recreation and Parks

2006
This publication provides a foundation on the basic concepts of public recreation and parks services in Pennsylvania. It also covers the demographic, environmental, social and other issues that face our municipalities and impact the provision of recreation and parks services.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
6553 times

National Poll Results: How Americans View Conservation

2017
Across the political spectrum, voters in the United Sates consistently demonstrate support for conservation. (Print version of CT Guide)
Last Modified
Jun 21, 2018
Viewed
7766 times

Nonprofit Name Change

2021
Sometimes it makes sense for a nonprofit to change its name to better reflect its mission and work, distinguish itself from other organizations, or otherwise improve its marketing. (4-page WeConservePA guide)
Last Modified
Feb 28, 2021
Viewed
1818 times

Not a Charitable Trust: The Donated Conservation Easement in Pennsylvania

2022
Little evidence exists to support the proposition that a donated conservation easement, in the absence of a charitable trust agreement, is a charitable trust in Pennsylvania; indeed, there is compelling evidence to the contrary. (Holder covenants may be used to buttress easements and do not run into the legal obstacles or suffer from the policy failings of the trust proposition.) WeConservePA guide. 11 pages.
Last Modified
Sep 19, 2022
Viewed
5001 times

Not a Public Trust: The Land Trust-Held Conservation Easement in Pennsylvania

2023
No legal precedent exists in Pennsylvania for finding that a conservation easement acquired by a private land trust is a public trust.
Last Modified
Jun 30, 2023
Viewed
5417 times

Optimizing Direct-Mail Fundraising Appeals

Authors: Nate Lotze
A collection of links to resources that can help organizations large and small raise more money from their appeal letters. (Print version of WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.)
Last Modified
Nov 11, 2022
Viewed
2696 times

Option to Sell (Put Option)

2023
An option to sell may be used to assure that a property acquisition can be undone if expectations are not met. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 17, 2023
Viewed
5644 times

Outdoor Access and Programs

2015
Authors: Nicole Faraguna
Land trusts have available to them a variety of tools and examples of how to improve public access and provide programming on their lands. By providing opportunities for outdoor experiences, land trusts help foster people's connections to nature and conservation.
Last Modified
May 23, 2019
Viewed
5822 times

Overview of Pennsylvania’s Recreational Use of Land and Water Act

2019
A brief review of the landowner protections provided by the Act regarding claims of personal injury or property loss by recreational users of their land. WeConservePA's "Guide to Pennsylvania’s Recreational Use of Land and Water Act" provides a more in-depth review of the same subject. (WeConservePA guide; 2 pages)
Last Modified
Jul 01, 2021
Viewed
9846 times

Pennsylvania Local Governments May Support Land Trusts

2022
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
In Pennsylvania, local governments may give money, land and easements to land trusts. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Aug 24, 2022
Viewed
4561 times

Permits for Events, Hunting, Camping, and Other Uses of Conserved Land

2022
Requiring permits for certain activities on conservation lands (such as events, hunting, and camping) helps land managers ensure that the activities do not negatively impact the land or others’ enjoyment of it. The permit-application process can also serve to inform users of the rules for using the land. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
Oct 21, 2022
Viewed
2530 times

Planning a Site Visit with Your Legislator

2021
A visit to conserved land or the location of an environmental restoration project may help a legislator (and their aides) better understand the positive impact of government conservation investments. This guide describes how the staff and volunteers of a conservation organization may organize a productive visit. (WeConservePA guide; 6 pages)
Last Modified
Jul 06, 2021
Viewed
5775 times

Polls Show Pennsylvanians Support Environmental Protection

2017
Authors: Nate Lotze
Polls show that Pennsylvanians are concerned about a range of environmental issues, from clean water and wildlife conservation to global warming and renewable energy. (Print version of CT guide)
Last Modified
Jun 21, 2018
Viewed
3104 times

Pre-Existing Mortgages in Easement Transactions: Using Non-Disturbance and Subordination Agreements to Prevent Extinguishment and Comply with Tax Law

2023
When a mortgage predates an easement on a property, the easement could be extinguished in a foreclosure if the owners default on their mortgage payments. And if the easement is to be donated and the donors wish to obtain tax benefits, additional complications arise. These problems can be avoided by obtaining an agreement from the mortgage holder appropriate to the circumstances. WeConservePA guide. 9 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 16, 2023
Viewed
10192 times

Prescribed Fire

2019
Authors: Nate Lotze
A prescribed fire is a planned fire—sometimes called a controlled burn—used to manage certain types of landscapes. It reduces the chance of major wildfires and provides numerous other benefits for humans, plants, and wildlife. (Print version of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Jun 25, 2019
Viewed
1689 times

Prioritization of Conservation Resources

2017
Authors: Nate Lotze and John Rogers
Prioritization tools help land trusts and municipalities make better decisions about where to focus conservation efforts and how to allocate limited resources. (Print version of CT Guide)
Last Modified
Nov 14, 2017
Viewed
2968 times

Promoting Walking for Wellness

2015
Walking is a free, easily accessible activity that improves physical and mental health and connects people with the outdoors. A variety of resources exist for promoting walking.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
3624 times

Property Tax Exemption for Preserves, Parks, Trails, and Other Conserved Lands

2022
Preserves, parks, trails, and other conserved lands in Pennsylvania are not automatically exempted from real estate taxes. If tax exemption is desired for a parcel, the charitable organization or local government must apply for exemption for that specific parcel. Exemption for one parcel does not guarantee exemption for others owned by the same entity. WeConservePA guide. 10 pages.
Last Modified
Oct 07, 2022
Viewed
4704 times

Public Access Policies and Practices for Land Trusts: Survey Results in Pennsylvania

2013
Authors: Nicole Faraguna
The Pennsylvania Land Trust Association surveyed Pennsylvania land trusts regarding their organizational policies and practices as well as management issues encountered related to their fee-owned properties.
Last Modified
May 23, 2019
Viewed
4829 times

Public Dedication of Land and Fees-in-Lieu for Parks and Recreation in Pennsylvania

2024
Pennsylvania municipalities may require developers to provide parkland for new developments. They may also offer developers the option to instead pay fees, construct facilities, or establish private parkland. WeConservePA guide. 18 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 29, 2024
Viewed
11477 times

Purchase and Sale Agreements for Conservation Projects: Guidance and Sample Provisions

2021
Acquisitions of land and easements for conservation purposes can involve issues different from other real estate transactions. This guide looks at purchase and sale agreements in general and then reviews potential customizations that may be made to these agreements to specifically address conservation matters. [Print version of ConservationTools.org guide]
Last Modified
Jan 30, 2021
Viewed
2800 times

Purchase Options: Gaining the Right Without the Obligation to Acquire Property Interests

2022
A purchase option is a right to purchase or lease land or other property interests without any obligation to do so.
Last Modified
Aug 25, 2022
Viewed
6804 times

Realty Transfer Tax Exclusions for Conservation-Related Transactions in Pennsylvania

2021
Many conservation-related property transactions are excluded from having to pay state and local realty transfer taxes in Pennsylvania. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
Sep 28, 2023
Viewed
5467 times

Reducing Federal Estate Tax: A Conservation Easement Benefit for Large Estates

2023
For large estates, death triggers the possibility of federal estate tax. A conservation easement on the deceased person’s land—whether granted in life, by will, or by the person’s heirs—can reduce or eliminate the tax owed. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Apr 13, 2023
Viewed
2310 times

Reducing Liability Associated with Public Access

2024
Public access to land for hiking, bird watching, hunting, and other recreational activities raises the possibility of a visitor getting injured and for the owners or managers of the land to then be held liable. Landowners and public access easement and lease holders can take practical steps to minimize the risk of liability. 7 pages.
Last Modified
May 10, 2024
Viewed
6812 times

Reducing Pennsylvania Inheritance Tax

2024
In Pennsylvania, death triggers a state inheritance tax on the distribution of the deceased person’s assets (the “estate”) to the beneficiaries of the estate. Conservation restrictions in support of agriculture on land included in the estate can reduce the inheritance tax owed. WeConservePA guide. 4 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 12, 2024
Viewed
6903 times

Release of Liability Form: A Tool to Reduce the Risk of Claims for Personal Injury or Property Loss

2024
A properly designed release of liability form signed by a volunteer or participant in an activity can reduce the risk of claims for personal injury or property loss against the organizing or hosting organization. This guide serves as both an introduction to this highly effective tool and a commentary to WeConservePA’s Model Release of Liability Form. WeConservePA guide. 8 pages.
Last Modified
May 16, 2024
Viewed
7481 times

Responding to an Encroachment: Oust or Give Permission with Conditions

2022
What should you do if a neighboring landowner encroaches on your organization’s property (e.g., builds a shed or extends their lawn) or otherwise uses the land without permission? Sometimes immediately booting them is the best answer; sometimes making an accommodation that provides them with at least temporary permission makes more sense. Doing nothing invites trouble. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
Last Modified
Aug 10, 2022
Viewed
2845 times

Restricted Gifts: Considerations in Accepting, Managing, and Soliciting Gifts for a Specific Purpose

2024
Charitable organizations should be aware of the issues that come with gifts of cash, land, or other property restricted to a particular purpose rather than an organization’s general purposes. They should understand the need for good communications with donors, be ready to handle the management challenges, and take care to avoid inadvertently imposing restrictions on gifts in their solicitations. WeConservePA guide. 10 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 12, 2024
Viewed
4792 times

Reversionary Interest

2012
A landowner concerned about the future use of their land can donate or sell their land on a conditional rather than absolute basis. The deed used to convey the land can include terms that will trigger a change in ownership back to them—or some other person or entity assigned by them—if use of the land falls out of compliance with the conditions set in the conveyance.
Last Modified
Aug 27, 2022
Viewed
6946 times

Right of First Offer and Right of First Refusal

2022
A landowner may not be ready to sell their property but may be willing—if and when they are ready to sell—to provide an organization with the opportunity to purchase the property before it is sold to another. The opportunity more specifically may be for the organization to accept or make an offer on the property before it is placed on the market, to negotiate with the owner before it is exposed to the market, or to match the offer of a third-party buyer after the property has been on the market. To legally commit to providing one or more of these opportunities, the owner grants the organization a right of first offer or right of first refusal. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
Aug 18, 2022
Viewed
8409 times

Riparian Buffer Protection Agreement

2011
A riparian buffer protection agreement limits activities on all or a portion of a property to advance conservation purposes while keeping the property in the control of the landowner.
Last Modified
Mar 22, 2018
Viewed
6417 times

Riparian Buffer Protection via Local Regulation: A Guide and Model Ordinance for Pennsylvania Municipalities

2014
Riparian buffers - forested or otherwise vegetated lands bordering water bodies - deliver tremendous water quality and other public benefits. Pennsylvania municipalities may ensure the protection and restoration of riparian buffers with their land use regulations.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
6035 times

Seller Take Back Financing

2024
When a seller wants to close a sale of real estate but the buyer is not yet in a position to fully fund the purchase, the parties can close the sale with the seller taking from the buyer a purchase money note and mortgage in lieu of an all-cash payment. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 08, 2024
Viewed
2745 times

Separate Entity to Hold Riskier Properties

2023
Some real property is substantially riskier than other property for an organization to hold and manage, perhaps because of environmental contamination (or suspicion of the same), perhaps because of more intense public use, perhaps for some other reason. Depending on just how great the perceived risk, the organization may want to consider isolating its exposure to that risk by establishing a separate organization—wholly controlled by the founding organization—to hold the riskier property. WeConservePA guide. 3 pages.
Last Modified
Jun 29, 2023
Viewed
1026 times

Sign Ordinance

2023
Authors: Nate Lotze
A sign ordinance can help a municipality reduce the visual clutter of signage and end business sign wars. It also can help protect, establish, or enhance community identity. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Mar 17, 2023
Viewed
2271 times

Solar Energy Development and Land Conservation

2019
Authors: Andrew M. Loza and Nate Lotze
An enormous boost in solar energy production is one of the actions needed to stop the dramatic rise of carbon in the atmosphere and better ensure civilization’s long-term prospects. This guide explores issues that conservationists may want to consider in order to both advance their land conservation work and support solar energy development.
Last Modified
Sep 11, 2020
Viewed
2193 times

Statutory Protection from Liability Related to Public Access: Pennsylvania Law Supports Opening Land to the Public

2024
Public access to land for recreational use raises concern about the possibility of visitor injuries and the potential for the owners or managers of the land to then be held liable. Several Pennsylvania statutes provide overlapping layers of protection from such liability. WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
May 10, 2024
Viewed
712 times

Steep Slope Ordinance

2023
Municipalities use zoning regulations to limit disturbance of steep slopes in order to prevent erosion, reduce the risk of dangerous landslides, and preserve scenic hillsides. WeConservePA guide. 8 pages.
Last Modified
Mar 07, 2023
Viewed
8005 times

Stewardship Funding Arrangements: Options for Financing the Obligations of Conservation Easement Holders

2023
A landowner may agree to one or more funding arrangements that require the landowner or successive owners of an eased property to make one or more payments to the easement holder to support stewardship of the property. These arrangements may be customized to fit the stewardship demands created by the particular conservation easement and the financial circumstances of the owner. WeConservePA guide. 12 pages.
Last Modified
Oct 20, 2023
Viewed
11002 times

Street and Sidewalk Design

2023
Good street and sidewalk design improves public health and safety, accommodates a variety of users, reduces environmental impacts, and makes communities more inviting. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 14, 2023
Viewed
7599 times

The Durability of Conservation Easements

2022
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
Landowners grant conservation easements to conservation organizations (“land trusts”) in perpetuity. The conservation objectives of the easement and the associated restrictions on how land can be used are intended to be permanent. Land trusts and their allies across the nation go to great lengths to ensure this permanence. 2 pages. [Print version of WeConservePA guide]
Last Modified
Feb 14, 2022
Viewed
1666 times

The Nature of the Conservation Easement and the Document Granting It

2023
By statute and by common law interpretation, a conservation easement is a real estate interest and is governed by real estate law, in particular, the law of servitudes. This guide analyzes the nature of the conservation easement and the operation of the document granting the easement. It includes discussion of the mechanisms that assist in upholding the easement's conservation objectives in perpetuity. WeConservePA guide. 15 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 26, 2023
Viewed
5706 times

The Official Map: A Handbook for Preserving and Providing Public Lands and Facilities

2011
The official map is a powerful planning tool for ensuring that land will be available where it is needed for roads, trails, parks, riparian buffers and other potential public infrastructure. The official map is authorized by the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code. This handbook is a guide for county and municipal leaders and planners who seek practical guidance in more effectively implementing land use plans.
Last Modified
Sep 17, 2019
Viewed
16339 times

Traffic Calming

2011
Authors: Nicole Faraguna
Traffic-calming incorporates a variety of design and management strategies in local streetscapes to control volume and speed of traffic for the safety of both motorists and non-motorists.
Last Modified
Apr 28, 2017
Viewed
5775 times

Trail Easements

2022
A property owner may convey to others the rights to create, maintain, and use a trail on their property without giving up ownership and enjoyment of the land through which the trail passes. WeConservePA guide. 14 pages.
Last Modified
Sep 27, 2022
Viewed
5827 times

Trails for All People: Guidance for Accessibility and Inclusive Design

2021
How can trail groups, local governments, and land trusts responsibly plan, develop, and operate trails that are accessible by all people, including those with limited mobility? What are best management practices? What is legally required? When is universal accessibility not appropriate? This manual addresses these questions in detail. The first edition of this manual was published under the title "Universal Access Trails and Shared Use Paths: Design, Management, Ethical, and Legal Considerations" in 2014. WeConservePA guide. 133 pages.
Last Modified
Sep 09, 2021
Viewed
17082 times

Trapped in a Contract: Don't Get Burned by Evergreen and Automatic Renewal Clauses

2020
Organizations should be wary of draconian renewal clauses that are sometimes embedded in seemingly innocuous contracts. If an organization enters into a contract containing such a clause, the organization should have a management system in place to ensure that crucial dates for action are not missed.
Last Modified
Aug 21, 2020
Viewed
1344 times

Tree Law in Pennsylvania

2022
Trees benefit us all; they can also bring conflict. This guide provides legal insights on typical neighbor disputes and responsibilities concerning trees near property lines. It reviews roles and responsibilities regarding trees in public rights of way. The guide also addresses the issues of liability for injury as well as the damages a court might award for cutting down or harming someone else’s trees. (Print version of WeConservePA guide)
Last Modified
Jan 13, 2022
Viewed
2840 times

Urban Growth Boundary

2019
Authors: Nate Lotze
Urban growth boundaries are used to demarcate where government intends to encourage and discourage land development. This guide provides links to resources about urban growth boundaries, as well as examples from Pennsylvania municipalities. (Print version of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Feb 25, 2019
Viewed
3856 times

Using a Deed Restriction to Protect Land: A Path for When Neither a Land Trust Nor Government Can Help

2021
A family or group of neighbors may want to limit future use of a property, but that desire may not be shared as a priority by conservation organizations or government. In this case, a deed restriction may a sensible—albeit imperfect—tool that the private individuals can use on their own to achieve limited protection of the land. A 2-page guide.
Last Modified
Jun 15, 2021
Viewed
2273 times

Using the Model Conservation Easement

2023
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
The Model Grant of Conservation Easement and Declaration of Covenants provides users with a state-of-the-art legal document. Built on a foundation of research that identified working (and failing) easement practices around the country and fine-tuned in response to user experiences and feedback over many years, no easement document has received more peer review. The expansive commentary explains the reasoning behind every provision, instructs on use of the model, and provides a wealth of alternative and optional provisions. WeConservePA guide. 4 pages.
Last Modified
Nov 21, 2023
Viewed
7298 times

Volunteers: Guidance for Recruiting, Training, Managing, and Retaining Unpaid Workers

2023
Effectively recruiting, training, managing, and retaining volunteers can play a crucial role in helping a nonprofit organization accomplish its goals. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Aug 16, 2023
Viewed
1728 times

What Is a Land Trust?

2018
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
Simply stated, a land trust is a charitable organization that acquires land or conservation easements, or that stewards land or easements, for conservation purposes. However, this simple definition leaves much to be explained. (WeConservePA guide; 3 pages)
Last Modified
Jul 01, 2021
Viewed
4857 times

Who Has Standing? Conservation Easements in Pennsylvania Courts

2024
Who can assert claims and be heard in Pennsylvania’s courts if a dispute heats up over the management of a conservation easement? WeConservePA guide. 6 pages.
Last Modified
Jan 30, 2024
Viewed
6150 times

Who May Get Involved in Conservation Easement Management Matters? A Consideration for Amendment of Pre-June 2001 Easements

2021
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
Occasionally a land trust will seek to amend a conservation easement. More often, the owners of land subject to an easement will ask for an amendment. In any case, the issue of who can insert themselves into easement management matters can be compelling reason for the parties to agree to an amendment if the easement was created in Pennsylvania prior to June 22, 2001. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Oct 28, 2021
Viewed
1487 times

Why Preserve Farmland?

2023
Authors: Nate Lotze and Andrew M. Loza
Farms feed us and provide a host of other public benefits. However, every day, the amount of fertile farmland diminishes as development spreads. When farmers think that the farms around them will be sold for development, which would result in the enterprises that support farming leaving and the loss of their support network, this can set off a downward spiral in a farming community: farmers leave farming or stop reinvesting in their farms because they fear the consequences of being one of the last farmers in an area. Farmland preservation programs can provide assurance to farmers that there will always be a critical mass of farms in an area, bringing stability to the local farm community and economy. WeConservePA guide. 5 pages.
Last Modified
Feb 08, 2023
Viewed
4474 times

Working Forest Conservation Easement: A Property Rights-Based Tool for Conservation

2023
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
A working forest conservation easement keeps forestland intact for timber production, providing support for rural economies. It is established by mutual agreement of a willing landowner and a private land trust or government. The conservation easement limits subdivision, development, and activities that would hinder the land’s capacity to grow trees for industry or potentially provide recreational opportunity. WeConservePA guide. 2 pages.
Last Modified
Jul 26, 2023
Viewed
1430 times

Working with Nature to Manage Stormwater

2019
Authors: Nate Lotze
The most effective tools to reduce the water pollution and flooding caused by stormwater runoff are green infrastructure, land conservation, and best management practices on farms. (Print version of ConservationTools.org guide)
Last Modified
Apr 25, 2019
Viewed
2231 times

Your Loss Is Not My Benefit; Your Gain Is Not My Detriment: The Tenuous Link Between Value to Landowner and Value to Conservation in Easement Transactions

2020
Authors: Andrew M. Loza
How does decrease or increase in market value of land resulting from establishing or amending an easement relate to the conservation easement’s value? What do we mean when we refer to “value”? This guide explores these questions.
Last Modified
Oct 30, 2020
Viewed
1323 times