Hudson Valley News
12:25 pm
Wed May 30, 2012

Coming Soon: Insurance For Land Trusts

Land Trusts soon will be able to purchase insurance aimed at assisting enforcement of easements. Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.

A land trust is a nonprofit organization that, as all or part of its mission, actively works to conserve land by undertaking or assisting in land or conservation easement acquisition, or by its stewardship of such land or easements.

The Land Trust Alliance out of Washington DC claims there are 1700 land trusts that have more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members.

These land trusts are credited with conserving some 37 million acres of land in the United States. With easements come promises of protection in perpetuity...

Lucy Hayden is the Executive Director of Winnakee Land-Trust in Rhinebeck, which counts approx. 350 easements.  She points out that conservation easements held by Winnakee on private lands are voluntary agreements made with willing landowners. The Land-Trust has, to date, avoided any court cases involving violations of those easements.  Hayden says Winakee protects 25-hundred acres throughout Dutchess County

Leslie Ratley-Beach is the Conservation Defense Director for the Montpelier, Vermont office of Land Trust Alliance, and has worked tirelessly for years to enable land trusts to be able to secure insurance policies; she says the insurance idea has been around for three decades and she's glad to see it come to fruition. The policies are expected to be available soon through Terrafirma, formed by the Land Trust Alliance in 2011 to help land trusts defend their conserved lands from legal challenge. The hope is the program will be fully operational within 6 months.

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