Devising to Avoid Divisions

The no division clause in a conservation easement can be crucial. It protects the easement’s habitat and scenic values while promoting wildlife movement. It also avoids land fragmentation, conflicting management and the unnecessary costs and burdens of extra monitoring and enforcement for multiple parcels. Are you using annual monitoring visits to ask the important questions that will help you to determine if this clause could be violated?

Rather than pepper the landowner with questions, try to engage them in a friendly conversation that involves the following:

  • Has the address changed?
  • Has any portion of property been sold, no matter how small?
  • Has any portion of property been given to anyone, even a relative, no matter how small?
  • Has any portion of property been leased, mortgaged, exchanged, or liened, no matter how small?
  • Have you granted rights to anyone, even a relative or neighbor, to anyone else of any kind?
  • Have you changed the name of the owner of the property such as creating a company, partnership or trust of any kind?
  • Have land uses changed in any way?

Explain that the easement addresses divisions, and that understanding the owner’s plans now means no unpleasant surprises down the road – for you and for the landowner.

Have questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 802-262-6051 for Leslie, or 202-800-2248 for myself.

Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Associate

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248 | help@terrafirma.org

 

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Confronting Condemnation

Condemnation threats to conservation mount across the country. Land trusts who successfully deflect or reduce these threats find that immediate action in the condemnation process helps to defend their conservation properties.

Generally, land trust folks report that these steps help reduce loss of conservation land:

  • engage with and educate the condemning authority early in the process,
  • try to find alternatives,
  • discuss the threat with experienced legal counsel, and
  • involve the appropriate parties, including the landowner and potentially the media

See more advice and resources on the Land Trust Alliance's Practical Pointer on Condemnation, available via The Learning Center. Please ask us for assistance. We are happy to share tips and information we have gleaned even though Terrafirma excludes condemnation challenges from coverage.

 
 

Keeping the promise

A recent win in court for Three Valley Conservation Trust (Ohio) could help land trusts in other states as we all work together to uphold conservation permanence.

The case involved two siblings, James and Janis Taylor, who sold a conservation easement on their family farm to Three Valley Conservation Trust. The easement prevented any division of the farm. However, when Janis wanted James to buy her out, James asked the court to let him divide the property despite the restrictions, and the judge sided with him.

Three Valley Conservation Trust successfully appealed the decision with the help of Terrafirma, the Land Trust Alliance, Coalition of Ohio Land Trusts and American Farmland Trust. On appeal, the court sided with the land trust and Janis, stating that restricting division of the property is consistent with current law.

This is a great example of land trusts and their allies working together and it is an important decision with national ramifications. Read more about the case here.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about divisions or anything else, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah, or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Associate

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn

 

John Hancock is your friend

It’s tempting to skip the formality of a signature when you know you have an agreement. But land trusts that allow other organizations on their property without getting complete paperwork could be putting themselves in jeopardy.

In Selective Insurance Co. v. Boy Scouts of America, a judge decided that, because the school failed to sign a confirmation letter allowing it to use the Boy Scout campground, the insurance company didn’t have to pay for injuries suffered by a student during an event held at the site—potentially leaving the Boy Scouts on the hook. The school’s insurance policy had extended coverage for contractors but without a signed contract, the judge ruled that the extended coverage didn’t apply. If you’re planning on working with a contractor or letting another organization use your property, make sure the person you’re arranging things with puts their John Hancock on the line so you can get all the benefits of a bona fide contractor.

 

File any 2017 policy year claims by Monday, April 30

TerraBite Ideas to chew on for Terrafirma owner-member land trusts 

Dear Hannah,

Phew – taxes are out of the way. On to the next important deadline!

The grace period for Terrafirma claims for the 2017 policy year period ends April 30 at midnight local time. Please remember to file any lingering claims from incidents that you first learned of between March 1, 2017 and March 1, 2018 by that day! Check out our handy infographic for more tips on when to file.

To file a claim for 2017, log into your account at www.terrafirma.org and click on “Submit a Claim” on the menu on the left side of your screen. You will see a dropdown menu that allows you to pick 2017 or 2018 for the policy year.

Lastly, don’t forget to download and review your new 2018 policy! This is also available on your land trust’s account at www.terrafirma.org – there should now be a green button that says “Download Policy” at the top of your home page.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about when to file a claim, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah, or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Associate

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn.

 

Filing claims is easy as pie!

Happy 3/14 – otherwise known as Pi Day! On this day we celebrate math and delicious pie.

Speaking of, filing a claim with Terrafirma is easy as pie! You can still file under the 2017 policy year by heading to the Terrafirma website and clicking on your 2017 Application on the Welcome screen, then “submit a claim” from the menu on the left. You have until April 30 to file for any issues discovered in the 2017 policy year.

 

Timing is crucial. In order for a claim to be eligible for coverage, it must be filed with Terrafirma within the policy year that you or anyone else at the land trust first became aware of the issue. The policy year is not the same as the calendar year – it runs from March 1 of the start of the policy year to March 1 of the next year, plus a 60 day window for filing claims. Filing a claim is quick, easy, and does not affect the cost of your premium. Check out our handy infographic for more tips on when to file.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about when to file a claim, please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for Hannah, or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.

Thanks,
Hannah

Hannah Flake
Conservation Defense Coordinator
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org
Connect with us on LinkedIn

 
March 22, 2018 | Tags:

What happens to your check when it goes to Terrafirma?

Internal financial controls are crucial not just to comply with laws and regulations, but to protect your land trust from fraud and embezzlement, which has become shockingly common at nonprofits. That’s why, when you send in your payment to Terrafirma, it takes a while for the payment to post to your account. The finance gurus at Terrafirma are taking a number of precautionary steps when processing Terrafirma payments each year, including:

 

  1. Keeping a log of all checks that come in
  2. Having a second person sign the log to confirm that she saw all the checks
  3. Stamping all checks with “For deposit only” before they leave the office
  4. Writing up a deposit slip to prove the total before taking the checks to the bank
  5. Keeping a scanned copy of the deposit slip and all checks being deposited
  6. Segregating check handling duties among 4 different people with substantial oversight
  7. Crediting your payment only after all internal controls have been satisfied

 

Does your land trust have sufficient controls in place? Find an internal control evaluation checklist here to help you evaluate your system and protect your land trust.

 

Hannah Flake

Conservation Defense Coordinator

ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC

(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

 
February 15, 2018 | Tags:

New Login Notice

We have updated our database to increase security and make communications more reliable.

You only need one password now! Your Land Trust Alliance password for accessing The Learning Center or signing up for Rally works for Terrafirma as well.

If you enter your e-mail address for an existing Terrafirma account, it will e-mail you your password, and if you do not yet have a Terrafirma login, it will prompt you to create one at: https://terrafirma.org/site/get_started

If you cannot log in, please contact us at help@terrafirma.org and we’ll help you get set up.

You might need approval from site administrators for security purposes – so please don’t wait until the last minute!

Once you are in your account, please remember to notify Terrafirma about any potential issues that were discovered during the 2017 policy period which remain unresolved.

 

Thanks!
Hannah

Hannah Flake
Conservation Defense Coordinator 
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org
 

P.S. Wondering what you can do for the Risk Management Discount?

  • The next webinar will be on January 23 – see the full list here
 

Our quick and easy online course can be taken at any time 

 
January 15, 2018 | Tags:

Winter is here

It’s the first day of winter. This means two great things: 1) more sunlight in the days ahead and 2) Terrafirma applications are open for the 2018 policy year!

Head on down to www.terrafirma.org and check off your list - it’s as easy as 1-2-3.

1.            Reconfirm your eligibility

2.            Add any new parcels and remove any assigned parcels

3.            Click the “submit” button and mail your check (payable to Terrafirma RRG)

Once you update, the 2018 coverage period continues uninterrupted from the original policy date. You have until February 2, 2018 to submit your 2018 application.

We endeavor to be as green as a Christmas tree, meaning everything is online; Terrafirma does not send paper invoices, applications, or policies. 

Having trouble logging in?

We have updated our database! Now whatever you put for your Land Trust Alliance password (the one you use when accessing The Learning Center or signing up for Rally) will work for Terrafirma as well.

If your previous Terrafirma password was different, you should now be able to enter the Alliance password to log in.

If you enter your e-mail address here for an existing Terrafirma account, it will e-mail you your password: https://terrafirma.org/site/get_started

 

Lastly, please remember to notify Terrafirma about any potential issues that were discovered during the 2017 policy period.

 

Wishing everyone a happy holiday season!

Hannah

 
 

Don't Leaf Anything Out!

Temperatures are dropping, leaves are falling, and that can only mean one thing – almost time to update your Terrafirma application! As you update for 2018, don’t forget to review the counting rules for your properties, including:

•    Parcels with different owners must be listed separately.  This is because the more the easement is spread across separately owned parcels, the greater the risk that you’ll have a lawsuit. Therefore, Terrafirma spreads that risk with additional premiums based on the number of separate landowners.
•    If you want to insure property within a certain category of property right (conservation easement, trail easement, fee land, etc.), you must list every parcel within that category.
•    Separate easements held by the same land trust can be counted as just one property for Terrafirma as long as they have the same owner, restrictions and permitted uses, and are contiguous.

Applications will open December 1, 2017, and the last day to submit will be February 2, 2018.

Lastly, remember to tell Terrafirma about any potential problems before the end of the 2017 policy period!

Have questions? Please let us know. You can email us directly or call 202-800-2219 for Lorri, 202-800-2248 for myself or 802-262-6051 for Leslie.


Thank you, and happy holidays!
Hannah

Hannah Flake
Conservation Defense Associate
ALLIANCE RISK MANAGEMENT SERVICES LLC
1250 H Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 800-2248  |  help@terrafirma.org

Connect with us on LinkedIn


P.S. Congratulations to Deborah Stanley, Derek Schaefer and Michelle Smith, the newest Members Committee representatives – we’re happy to have you on board!

 

 

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