Get off my lawn!

Does your land trust have written policies and procedures for dealing with an encroachment violation? Here is just one example of an action step that your organization can take: Ask neighbors to be your eyes. They can be your most valuable witnesses for up-to-date, firsthand information. For eight more tips on documenting, responding and more, click here.

Still have questions about handling an encroachment, or anything else? 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.

Thanks,

Hannah

 
 

Year in Review: 2015

 

 

Infographic

Terrafirma now has 493 members, operates in 48 states plus D.C., and insures over 7.6 million acres. That’s bigger than the state of Maryland! Thank you to all of the owner members of Terrafirma for growing stronger each year.

The numbers are in: Check out the financials page to see this year’s annual report, financial statement and 990.

Stay on top of any potential claims you have lingering from 2015. You have only 14 more days to file a placeholder claim for the 2015 policy year! See indicators of when to file a claim »

Make sure your conservation success is a part of the Land Trust Alliance's 2015 National Land Trust Census! The survey closes on March 31. More than facts or figures, this survey shows the collective impact of land conservation across the country and is featured in prominent national media outlets.

Hungry for more TerraBites? Check out our LinkedIn.

If you have questions about updating your application or anything else, 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.

Thanks,

Hannah

 

2015 isn’t over…yet

 

The 2015 Terrafirma policy period ends at midnight, March 1, 2016. However, the policy allows members a last chance to submit claims for issues that started in the 2015 policy period. From March 1 to April 30, 2016 (60 days) you will have the option to file under your 2015 policy (for claims that started before March 1) or under your 2016 policy (for brand spanking new claims).

This means that you have options.

To file a claim for 2015, go to your welcome screen and click “View 2015 Application.” From there, select “File a Claim” from the menu on the left side of your screen.

We’re here to help! If you have questions about the grace period or anything else, 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.

Thanks,
Hannah

P.S. The IRS announced that as of February 29, organizations who file Form 990-N electronic submissions must file forms on the IRS website (IRS.gov) instead of the Urban Institute's website. Form 990-N only applies to charities with net annual receipts of less than $50,000.

 

Missing something?

Make sure you list all of your parcels when updating your Terrafirma application! Anything left out of the category of legal interests (easement, land, trail) you insure might not be eligible for coverage of a later claim. And because Terrafirma requires that you insure all of your parcels within the categories you select, your claim could be jeopardized if the parcel is missing. Double-check and compare to your database!

Worried that you forgot something? Email help@terrafirma.org and we will help you update your application, even if you have already submitted (prior to February 2, 2016).

If you have questions about updating your application or anything else, 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.

Thanks,
Hannah

 

P.S. It is not too late to secure a 2016 Risk Management discount! This can be done via webinar or our free and quick online course. To qualify, training must be completed every year by a member of senior leadership.

 

When Sharing Isn't Caring

The holidays are a time of giving and sharing, but not all giving and sharing is good. Many conservation easements prohibit subdivision — so a generous landowner who decides to give the back lot to a relative may be violating the easement. And since Terrafirma insurance divides parcels by number of owners, the division would affect your coverage.

Just asking the landowner about subdivision sometimes isn’t enough. Here is a list of things to watch out for:

  • Any new deeds or easements being prepared or recorded
  • Shared ownership with multiple parties
  • Wills that give the property to multiple heirs
  • Wills that grant a life estate in part of the property
  • Plans to give a house lot to a relative
  • Bankruptcy, foreclosure or divorce proceedings

If you discover a subdivision, don’t hesitate to file a claim or placeholder claim. The situation may be simple to resolve but why take the risk? Filing a claim is easy!

 

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about property divisions or anything else, 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.

Thanks,
Hannah

 

Gobble Up These Risk Management Resources

Do you want to start managing your organization’s risk, but you’re not sure where to turn? You have many free resources available!

On the Learning Center:

The Nonprofit Risk Management Center:

  • Log on as an affiliate using these instructions for free and discounted risk and insurance resources.

Reminder: You still need resources to hire experts (see reserve calculator) and it is smart to get a preapproval from your board to spend up to the $5000 deductible on disputed violations and trespass and challenges.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about risk management resources 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

 

P.S. The Terrafirma enrollment and update period begins December 1st. The 2016 Risk Management discount can be attained via webinar attendance or our online course

 

Keep Your Cool in a Hot Headed Encounter

Working with a land trust, you will encounter all sorts of landowners and neighbors and others. Some will be more engaging than others. How can you be most effective with someone who isn’t as skillful or poised as you?

  • Stay calm. If you feel yourself getting angry or upset, step back mentally from the situation, take a breath and remember what you want to accomplish. Your kindness and calmness can refocus the tone of the situation.
  • Be clear. Subtleties of words can lead to confusion. Emotional finesse however is essential.
  • Stay aware of consequences. If done calmly and clearly and without rancor, stating the direct consequences of the individual’s actions may be enough to lead to collaboration.
  • Give it a rest. Diplomacy is critical. Come back another day to revisit the conversation.
 

Remember you are the pro! Demonstrate your compassion, confidence and determination in all you do.

 

Back to School Savings for Land Trusts

School supplies can be expensive — but the Legal Defense Reserves Calculator is free! Get a better forecast of the adequate legal defense reserve you need with the Land Trust Alliance’s new calculator. The calculator enables you to calculate reserves tailored to your specific situation. The Alliance worked with independent actuaries to develop the calculator using actuarial analysis and data collected from hundreds of land trusts across the nation, building upon previous studies of basic thresholds for defense funding. The tailored results can help you survive significant legal challenges or a series of challenges.

Access the calculator in The Learning Center or contact us by email to receive the calculator as an Excel file.

 

Whose Bill Is It Anyway?

It is a common misconception that the losing side of a lawsuit pays the legal costs for both sides. In fact, the general rule in the U.S. is that each party pays its own fees. But carefully worded conservation easements can prevent land trusts from incurring excessive legal costs when defending lasting conservation.

When drafting an easement, one can include a clause saying that in case of a lawsuit, the landowner pays for all legal fees, including all experts, attorneys and costs. Since the land trust is responsible forever for upholding the public interest in the land and is a charity, this is an equitable arrangement. Be sure to talk to your attorney and read this practical pointer for more details.

 

So Much to Discover: Keep in Line When You're Online

Social media posts, texting and online chats are part of everyday life for many - but did you know that lawyers can use that information against you in court? If opposing counsel files a written demand (called a discovery request), you must give them everything you have ever posted or written about that dispute.

Check out this horror story about a father-daughter Facebook post and settlement. Lawyers can request copies of text messages from your phone company - and you can be sanctioned for thousands of dollars for erasing texts and video posts before a lawsuit.

Our advice: Pick up the phone. Be careful who you share your thoughts with and how. Even if you aren’t posting online, information may be demanded and obtained from your private email.

We’re here to help! If you have any questions about social media 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.

 

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