Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Know the Code

The Land Trust Alliance reports on its website that the Chattowah Open Land Trust has become the first trust in the nation to adopt the new revision of the land trust standards and practices. The new standards are in response to the fallout from increased public and government scrutiny following the Washington Post series on questionable practices by The Nature Conservancy. In particular, the new standards give guidelines on board accountability, defining and dealing with conflicts of interest, and compliance with all tax laws. The standards also have been expanded on what constitutes good practices for conservation easements. That's the particular area of interest to the IRS, because of the possibility that insider influence can lead to tax breaks all out of proportion to what should be given.
The standards probably mean a lot more paperwork and bureaucracy for land trusts that are used to a more free wheeling approach, particularly some of the smaller, mostly volunteer organizations. But the goal of greater transparency is to be applauded.
As the introduction to the guidelines says, "The continued success of land trusts depend both on public confidence in, and support of, the conservation efforts of these organizations, and on building conservation programs that stand the test of time. It is every land trust's responsibility to uphold this public trust and to ensure the permanence of its conservation efforts."
Hear, hear.


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