A new draft (dated 7/10/2016) of the 7th edition of the Model Grant of Conservation Easement has been published for public review at http://conservationtools.org. The draft incorporates the robust and excellent comments received since the 5/27 draft was released for review.
The draft is posted in three versions: (A) a document showing all the differences from the 6th edition with explanations for the changes; (B) a version that compares the 5/27 public draft to the new 7/10 draft; and (C) a “clean” copy with no markups or comments.
Public comments on the 7/10 draft are due no later than July 29. Send comments to email@example.com.
The new draft, in response to the many thoughtful comments and suggestions, includes a number of changes. Among the most notable are the following:
- In the restrictive covenants, the model provides blanks for many numerical limitations but also provides parenthetical limits to apply in the case that a blank is not filled in. For example, “(500 if not noted otherwise)” This avoids the past problem of some documents being recorded with blanks while re-emphasizing that people should customize the limits to fit the project. (Although not necessary, users should consider deleting the parenthetical limits after they have inserted appropriate limits for the project.)
- The limitations on Improvements in both the Standard Protection Area and Minimal Protection Area have been reworked to add clarity and facilitate customization to a project. They have also been adjusted to provide the Holder more discretion and the Owners potentially more flexibility without compromising the Conservation Objectives. This should also serve to reduce the number of amendment requests that might otherwise occur over the decades to address matters that the Holder would have been comfortable agreeing to if the matter had been raised at the time of the initial drafting.
- A new requirement is placed on animal operations in the Standard Protection Area. (Concentrated animal operations are explicitly prohibited and Owners must provide the nutrient management plan or manure management plan to Holder.)
- Certain activities supportive of Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Forestry are now permitted in the Standard Protection Area subject to Holder’s Review.
- The definition of Agriculture has been reworked.
- A few changes introduced for the May edition were rejected and the 6th edition formulations reintroduced.
Note for People Unfamiliar with the Model
The model is accompanied by a lengthy commentary that explains the reasoning behind every provision, instructs on use of the model (for example, most numbers serve as placeholders, not as recommendations), and provides a wealth of alternative and optional provisions. The model’s strength and flexibility cannot be fully tapped without use of the commentary. While the 7th edition commentary is a work in progress, the 6th edition commentary is available at http://conservationtools.org/library_items/323. A Quick Start Guide to the model is also available there.