Posted on February 22, 2010
bainbridge island land trust (bilt) - who?, what?, when?, where?
following is a a basic primer summarizing what conservation easements are all about and a brief chronology of the activities of the bainbridge island land trust courtesy of the current executive director, asha rehnberg. more detailed information can be found at the links that follow.
What Are Conservation Easements?
A conservation easement is a voluntary legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified conservation organization or a government agency that permanently protects identified natural features and limits land uses in order to protect conservation values.
A conservation easement is a way for willing landowners to permanently protect and steward property they care about. Landowners might receive federal tax relief or reductions on local property taxes.
Conservation easements run in perpetuity with the property as a part of the deed. If landowners change, the property is still protected. (The landowner retains title to the property. The Land Trust only holds an "interest" in the property through a conservation easement.)
In order for property to qualify for a conservation easement and for the Bainbridge Island Land Trust to accept an easement it must meet Federal and State laws that govern conservation easements.
· The property must demonstrate natural, scenic, historic, recreational or agricultural value.
· The property must be of sufficient size that its conservation values such as wetlands, streams, wildlife habitat, tidelands, forest land, and open space values will remain intact, even if adjoining properties are developed.
· The protection of the property aids sound land use planning, promotes land conservation, and encourages careful stewardship of land and water resources.
Certain rights, which a landowner holds by owning a property, are granted to the conservation organization or agency through the conservation easement.
· For example, in a conservation easement, a landowner may permanently reduce the number of homes that can be built on a property. Or, to permanently preserve a forest for wildlife habitat, an easement may prohibit or limit logging, or identify acceptable logging practices. The extent and nature of the restrictions are based on the conservation goals of the landowner in combination with the goals of the Land Trust.
Conservation easements do not have to be accessible to the public.
When the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, as a qualified conservation organization, holds a conservation easement, it is responsible for ensuring that its restrictions are enforced in perpetuity and ensuring present and future owners abide by the terms of the easement.
· We take an initial inventory of the natural attributes of a property (called a Baseline Document) at the time an easement is granted and record this information with the legal agreement, conduct annual monitoring visits to conserved properties, and constantly working with landowners, agencies and organizations to understand and monitor how conserved areas are being managed and used.
Contact the Bainbridge Island Land Trust: (206) 842-1216
Asha Rehnberg, Executive Director Brenda McMurray, Stewardship Director
ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND FAST FACTS
February 2010 Currently, the Land Trust has helped to protect more than 1,100 acres of vulnerable forestlands, wetlands, meadows, shorelines, agricultural lands, riparian corridors and scenic vistas since our founding 20 years ago. The Land Trust currently holds 44 conservation easements on almost 700 acres. 39 easements are on private properties; 5 are on public areas - Gazzam Lake Preserve, Peters Tree Farm, Meigs Park, Meigs Farm and the Ted Olson Preserve Addition. The Land Trust also currently owns 41 acres of land including the 19-acre Heart of the Forest parcel, several wetland habitat lots in Fletcher Bay, a small property in Fort Ward, and the 20-acre Wildlife Corridor connecting Meigs Park and the eastern segment of the Grand Forest. In addition, the Land Trust has been instrumental in the establishment of many of the Island's best loved parks including the Grand Forest, the Gazzam Lake Preserve, Blakely Harbor Park, Pritchard Park, Hawley Cove Park, the Ted Olson Preserve Addition, the Peters Tree Farm, the Close Property, Meigs Park, and the shoreline park at Rockaway Beach.
Chronology of Accomplishments:
- Initial Board of Directors: Nate Thomas, President; Jim Cutler, Vice-President; Paul Kundtz, Secretary; Larry Luce Treasurer.
- Since its inception the Land Trust has worked with private landowners to protect their land with conservation easements (permanent land protection agreements).
- First conservation easements were on Willowbrook Farm (corner of 305 and Day Road) and the Battle Point Spit.
- Began discussions in 1989 with the Department of Natural Resources regarding the purchase of what would become the Grand Forest.
- Bond passed by voters to fund Grand Forest-September 1991.
- Beginning in 1990, work with partners (Parks District, County, State) to purchase what is now referred to as Meigs Park.
- Summer 1992: Meigs Park acquired and given to Parks District. Gale Cool purchases other 20 acres (now referred to as Meigs Farm). BILT holds conservation easements on both pieces. (The City of BI has subsequently purchased the Cool piece.)
- Fall 1992: Began working to acquire Gazzam Lake Preserve; completed in December 1995. BILT negotiated option agreement; BILT members on the Friends of Gazzam Lake committee; BILT maintains a conservation easement on the property. BILT added 2.5
- 1995: Worked with landowners along Issei Creek on salmon restoration and conservation easements.
- December 1995: Optioned two 10-acre parcels as part of the envisioned wildlife corridor; 1996-97-BILT purchased wildlife corridor between Meigs and the Grand Forest.
- 1997: BILT partners with the B.I. School District and the University of Washington on the Nature Mapping program; Program continues today.
- 1997: Fundraising begins to acquire 20-acre Blakely Harbor Park - completed on December 15, 1999. In 2001, BILT helped the Park District acquire another 18.4 acres adjacent to the Park.
- 1998: First part-time Executive Director hired.
- 2001: First Phyllis Young Award given. BILT moves into Marge Williams Center. Hires first full-time Executive Director.
- 2001: Developer John Green places conservation easement on 50 acres on Bucklin Hill Road (now known as the Old Woods Lane easements); BILT representatives also enter into negotiations with Port Blakely Tree Farms for two parcels on Rockaway Beach.
- Fall 2001: $8 million bond levy passes - City of BI appoints Open Space Commission ("OSC").
- BILT options the Hall property for the City's Open Space Commission -- 12 acres on Eagle Harbor, now known as Hawley Cove Park.
- 2002: Open Space Commission purchases Rockaway Beach property.
- 2003: BILT partners with OSC to purchase the Close Property--64 acre parcel adjacent to Gazzam Lake Preserve with 550 feet of pristine waterfront. OSC puts in $1.25 million, BILT raises the additional $1.25 million to complete purchase by 2005. Transferred to Park District in 2005.
- 2003: BILT partners with the Trust for Public Land, the BI Japanese-American Community and others to raise private donations for the purchase of Pritchard Park on Eagle Harbor. BILT raised $500,000 in private donations toward the $8 million purchase price. Completed January 2006.
- 2003-2004: From the beginning of the Land Trust (1989-1990), the Peters sisters had talked about preserving part or all of their 100 acres adjacent to Gazzam Lake Preserve on the east. In 2003 they began talking to OSC about a possible purchase of 50 acres. The City purchased 49 acres in 2004 and BILT holds a conservation easement on the property commonly known as the Peters Tree Farm.
- 2006-2007: With the help of the OSC, neighbors and private donors, the Land Trust purchased a 5-acre Addition to the Ted Olson Preserve on No. Madison Ave. Purchased for $375,000 and transferred to Parks. BILT holds a conservation easement on it.
- 2007-2009: Purchased 19 acres adjacent to the Grand Forest. Acquisition of this parcel, called the "Heart of the Forest," entirely with private funds necessitated $1.796 million dollars in fund-raising efforts. Currently, the Land Trust has pledges and donations of approximately $1.749 million, and needs to raise approximately $47,000 more to complete the project by 12/31/2011.
- 2009: In December, the Land Trust reached a milestone in long-running negotiations and signed a Letter of Intent to acquire a compelling 31-acre property that connects the eastern (Mandus Olson) and western (Miller Road) segments of the Grand Forest.
links for additional information:
regarding potential reductions in property tax when a conservation easement is combined with enrollment in the county's current use program: