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August, 2009
Ratley-Beach To Present

Leslie Ratley-Beach, Director of Conservation Defense for the Land Trust Alliance, will address emerging issues in legal defense and the proposed conservation defense insurance national program at this year’s Summit. Join the conversation on November 10 with Leslie, our keynote speaker Tracy Mehan, and other conservation experts at the premier gathering of Michigan’s land conservancies. Register now

Lead Sponsor:      TNCLogoPrimary_CMYK copy.jpg                   Sponsors:    CE logo.jpg       LANDPOLICYcolor.jpg

Supporters: Meijer, Inc., Williams & Associates, Yankee Appraisal Associates, Center for Applied Environmental Research (University of Michigan-Flint), Public Policy Associates


Policy Update

Current Policy Focus: State

PA116 Lien Recapture Bills See Action in the House

HB 4158 (Mayes D-Bay City): Bill would allow capture of a portion of $12.8 million in property liens owed the state through PA 116 non-renewals to fund permanent farmland preservation. Heart of the Lakes provided testimony in favor of HB 4158 to the House Agriculture Committee on July 30. Both Michigan Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Michigan Farm Bureau provided testimony in favor of the bill as well. The substitute and amendment to the bill were passed (proposed lien recapture incentives of a 3-month 15% discount window and subsequent 6-month 10% discount window to those who owe the state as well as interest penalty language on all new PA 116 applications).The bill was tabled as the committee preferred to see a separate, companion bill introduced (not tie barred) addressing the proposed transfer fee increases for PA 116 lands paid to MDA, as that language is in a separate section of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act than the lien recapture issues are.  
The companion bill, HB 5218, was introduced on August 4 by Rep. Cushingberry (D-Wayne County) and is expected to be before the House Committee on Agriculture before fall recess. The companion legislation will propose the transfer fee be raised to $50 with that amount increasing to $75 in 5 years.

  Bill to Convey State Property to Private Use Moves to Senate

HB 5058 (Sheltrown D – West Branch) would require the DNR to convey 475 acres of state-owned forest property in Oscoda Township, Iosco County to Boyd and Loretta Aldridge at fair market value for construction of a golf course that replicates St. Andrews golf course in Scotland. The bill passed the House by one vote of the required 2/3 majority on June 25 (74-35 vote) and was referred to the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 15.  Senator Stamas (R-District 36) introduced SB 730 on August 5. Heart of the Lakes opposes the bill as it would set bad public policy precedent by further opening the door to additional public land grabs serving narrow, private economic interests that benefit only a few over a broader, public interest and the conservation of Michigan's public lands. The bill has not been scheduled before the Appropriations Committee at this time.

Current Policy Focus: Federal

Conservation Easement Incentive Act Gains Sponsors

HR 1831: Legislation introduced to make the enhanced federal tax deduction for qualified conservation easements permanent - incentives that are important for landowners to protect significant natural and working lands but are set to expire December 31, 2009. Spearheaded by the Land Trust Alliance and supported by Heart of the Lakes, the goal is to gain a majority in the U.S. House by securing 218 cosponsors. To date, 11 of 15 Michigan representatives have signed on (Ehlers-R, Dingell-D, Hoekstra-R, Kildee-D, McCotter-R, Miller-R, Peters-D, Rogers-R Schauer-D, Stupak-D, and Upton-R). Heart of the Lakes is currently reaching out to the remaining Michigan representatives to gain their support. More information from the Land Trust Alliance.

Other Federal Conservation Policy Updates

Bills Introduced to Improve Estate Tax Incentives for Conservation

Estate taxes can lead to the break-up, sale and development of family-owned farm, ranch- and forest lands, even when landowners would prefer to keep these lands intact. Congress will almost certainly enact estate tax reform this year, and in recent weeks three bills have been introduced that would help landowners keep their land in agriculture and pass it on to the next generation:

H.R. 3050 American Family Farm and Ranchland Protection Act, introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Eric Cantor (R-VA). This bill will increase the cap on the "2031(c) exclusion" from estate tax for 50% of the value of land under easement, from the current $500,000 to $5 million.

H.R. 3524 Family Farm Preservation Estate Tax Act, introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). This bill would indefinitely defer estate taxes on agricultural and conserved land so long as it remains in the family, ensuring that nobody will have to sell their land just to pay estate taxes.

H.R. 1328 Farmland Preservation and Land Conservation Act, Introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) to defer estate taxes on agricultural land or land under easement.

Conservancies in the News

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy Achieves National Accreditation

Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy (GTRLC) is Michigan's newest accredited land conservancy! Announced by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission on August 5, GTRLC joins the ranks of three other Michigan conservancies that have the distinction of achieving national accreditation. Chikaming Open Lands, Leelanau Conservancy, Legacy Land Conservancy and now GTRLC have all demonstrated they are meeting national standards of excellence for upholding the public trust and ensuring that conservation efforts are permanent. GTRLC is also a participant in the Advancing Conservancy Excellence program, a partnership between Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy and the Land Trust Alliance, which is providing twenty Michigan conservancies with the training, knowledge, and capacity required to be well-positioned for accreditation and sustainable for future generations. Congratulations to GTRLC and read more about their outstanding achievement.  

Michigan Conservancies Receive Water Quality Grants

In late July, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced the award of 14 water quality grants totaling over $4.4 million. Four Heart of the Lakes member conservancies received grants for easement acquisition of critical watershed properties and water quality education: Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy, Leelanau Conservancy, Little Forks Conservancy, and Six Rivers Regional Land Conservancy.

Grosse Ile Nature and Land Conservancy, Great Lakes Echo, July 27
Chippewa Watershed Conservancy,
Big Rapids Pioneer News, July 29
Little Traverse Conservancy,
Secures Crown Jewel

Employment Opportunities

Development Director, Michigan Nature Association

Events and Training

Advancing Conservancy Excellence
Friday, August 27, 2009, 10:00 - 3:00 pm
Doherty Hotel and Conference Center, Clare, Michigan
Michigan Model Conservation Easement Meeting
Land protection specialists and their legal counsel invited. For more information, contact Julie Stoneman,
Friday, September 11, 2009, 10:00 - 11:00 am        
Ask An Attorney Conference Call featuring Scott Howard of Olson, Bzdok & Howard, P.C. Liability on Publicly Accessible Lands will explore liability issues for conservancies that invite the public to visit their properties and/or engage volunteers in stewardship work on nature preserves. Sign up now!

Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy

November 10, 2009, 9:00-5:00pm  
Lansing Center, Lansing, Michigan
Heart of the Lakes 5th Annual Summit
Join the Conversation!

Land Trust Alliance In-Person Trainings

September 2, 2009
Fort Harrison State Park, Indianapolis, Indiana
Standards and Practices Curriculum Training: Nonprofit Law and Recordkeeping for Land Trusts
Wednesday and Thursday, September 16 and 17
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Standards and Practices Curriculum Training: Evaluating and Selecting Conservation Projects
October 11-14,  2009 
Portland, Oregon
Land Trust Alliance Rally
Land Trust Alliance On-Line Trainings
August, 19, 2009, 2:00 pm
Fundraising in Tough Economic Times (90 minute workshop, $50 per connection)    
August 26, 2009, 2:00 pm
Climate Change and Land Trusts (90 minute workshops, $50 per connection)
September 2, 2009
Funding Land Stewardship (90 minute workshop, $50 per connection)
September 10, 17, 24 and October 2:00 pm
Drafting Easements in Perpetuity (Curriculum Topic In-Depth, $150 for Land Trust Alliance members/Others $299 for up to two participants)               
Association of Fundraising Professionals/NorthSky Nonprofit Network
September 18, 2009, 9:00 - 12:00 pm
Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, Michigan
Perspectives on Grant-Seeking: Asking for Operational Support in This (or Any!) Economy. ($30 AFP member, $45 nonmember)
Nonprofit Enterprise At Work (NEW)
September 23, 2009, 1:00 - 4:00 pm
New Center, Ann Arbor Michigan
Money Matters: Understanding Nonprofit Financial Statements.  How to interpret financial statements and evaluate financial health. ($25 online.  $30 phone, fax or in person)
Eastern Lands and Resources Council
September 22 – 23, 2009
Marriott, East Lansing, Michigan
Fall Conference: Eastern Lands and Resources Council is the association of public lands managers, and their partners, east of the Mississippi River. Heart of the Lakes member organizations are invited to their annual conference which will be held in East Lansing, Michigan.

Land Conservancy of West Michigan and Korth Family Foundation

October 29, 2009
Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, Grand Rapids
9th Annual Korth Conservation Speakers Series
The Land Conservancy of West Michigan will host Buddy Huffaker, Executive Director of the Aldo Leopold Foundation: "A Land Ethic for the 21st Century:  Integrating Land Conservation and the Built Environment". Public invited, registration required.

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In This Issue:
Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy Achieves National Accreditation
  Advancing Conservancy Excellence
Application Deadline:
 September 11, 2009
Five spaces remain for Michigan land conservancies interested in applying for the Advancing Conservancy Excellence program

Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy

300 N. Bridge Street, Grand Ledge, MI 48837  |  517.925.8649  |

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Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy
300 N. Bridge St.
Grand Ledge, MI 48837

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