On Thursday, February 1, as part of the Forum Webinar Series, Preservation Leadership Forum hosted “Building Easement Stewardship.”
The webinar highlighted the importance of responsible easement stewardship as an obligation of easement-holding organizations. Developing consistency in stewarding easements will improve program effectiveness and help build relationships with property owners. Strong stewardship will mitigate the risks associated with holding easements and help build a solid record for litigation in case easements ever need to be enforced.
Webinar panelists included Ross Bradford and Raina Regan of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, along with Wendy Musumeci from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. The webinar provided a variety of tips and tools that preservation easement holders can use to improve their stewardship practices.
Watch the webinar and continue the conversation on Forum Connect. Here are answers to questions that we were unable to address during the webinar.
What advice do you have for someone approaching potential easement holders—e.g., preservation nonprofits—to convince them to start an easement program?
The National Trust published “Establishing and Operating an Easement Program to Protect Historic Resources,” a resource for organizations interested in starting easement programs. This publication provides advice and a framework for starting an easement program, including guidance for establishing standards and procedures to operate the program effectively. Proactive planning in the program development stage—before any easements are accepted—will allow the organization to successfully and sustainably meet the perpetual obligations required by accepting and holding the easement.
Can you clarify the types of easement endowment funding models discussed?
The case-by-case calculation method involves estimating the actual costs of performing the annual stewardship—including monitoring, project review, hiring legal counsel, and administration—for a property and capitalizing that over 20 years, assuming a 5 percent return on the endowment. The base rate model uses a range of standard amounts, such as the easement’s total acreage, and then adds additional fixed amounts based on factors like subdivision rights. Lastly, some organizations base their endowment calculation on a fixed percentage of the property’s fair market value.
How can I learn more about using ArcGIS as an easement database?
We encourage organizations that use ArcGIS to track their easements to share their experience with their colleagues on Forum Connect.
Can you explain further how to use Zillow to track ownership?
Zillow is a website that aggregates real estate listings, primarily of residential properties. It includes a feature that allows registered users to “save” homes. Once you have saved homes to your account, you can get notifications when the properties are listed for sale by a real estate agent, when the prices drop, and when they sell.
Is there a resource for finding creative funding sources for easements?
Some state and local government programs support organizations in purchasing conservation easements. We are not aware of a universal resource that describes these funding sources because programs vary from state to state.