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Perpetual Conservation Easements: What Have We Learned and Where Should We Go From Here?

February 15, 2013 @ 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm


University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

The public is investing billions of dollars in conservation easements, which now protect more than 18 million acres throughout the United States. But uncertainties in the law and abusive practices threaten to undermine public confidence in and the effectiveness of conservation easements as land protection tools. This conference will explore these issues, with the goal of minimizing abuse and helping to ensure that conservation easements actually provide the promised conservation benefits to the public over the long term. Leaders in their respective fields will address (i) the federal tax incentives offered with respect to easements donated as charitable gifts to certain qualified holders, (ii) the state conservation easement enabling statutes, (iii) federal and state oversight of charities, and (iv) the role of state attorney general offices in the charitable sector and in the protection of charitable assets on behalf of the public.

Hear Nancy McLaughlin interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered »


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12:00 p.m.


Robert B. Keiter, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Introductory Remarks

Nancy A. McLaughlin, Robert W. Swenson Professor of Law,
University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

12:20 p.m.

Federal Tax Incentives

  • History – Theodore S. Sims, Professor of Law, Boston University School of Law; Formerly with the Treasury Department
  • IRS Response to Abuses – Karin Gross, Supervisory Attorney, IRS Office of Chief Counsel
  • Proposed Reforms – Roger Colinvaux, Associate Professor of Law, The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law; Former Counsel to the Joint Committee on Taxation

1:20 p.m.

State Enabling Statutes

  • History – K. King Burnett, Uniform Law Commissioner, Member of Uniform Conservation Easement Drafting Committee
  • Unintended Consequences of “Easement” Terminology – Michael Allan Wolf, Professor of Law and Richard E. Nelson Chair in Local Government Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law, University of Florida Levin College of Law; Editor of Powell on Real Property
  • Reforms – Jeffrey Pidot, Former Chief of the Natural Resources Division of the Maine Attorney General’s Office (retired); Originator of Maine’s Enabling Statute Reforms

2:20 p.m. Break

2:45 – 3:45 p.m.

Charity Oversight

  • Cases and Controversies – Nancy A. McLaughlin, Robert W. Swenson Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
  • History – Marion R. Fremont-Smith, Senior Research Fellow, Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations, Harvard University
  • Limits of Self-Regulation – Melanie B. Leslie, Professor of Law, Cardozo Law School

3:45 – 4:45 p.m.

Working With State Attorney General Offices

  • Overview of Attorney General’s Role in Charitable Sector – Mark A. Pacella, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section, Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General
  • Working With the Attorney General’s Office in New Hampshire – Terry M. Knowles, Assistant Director, Charitable Trusts Unit, Department of Attorney General of New Hampshire
  • Working With the Attorney General’s Office in California – Darla Guenzler, Executive Director, California Council of Land Trusts

4:45 – 5:00 p.m.

Concluding Remarks­­—Taking The Long View

Wendy Fisher, Executive Director, Utah Open Lands Conservation Association

4 hours of CLE, email communications@law.utah.edu

Hear Nancy McLaughlin interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered >>



February 15, 2013
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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S. J. Quinney College of Law
383 South University St
Salt Lake City, UT 84112 United States


Wallace Stegner Center