Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Passing of a Land Preserver

Richard Brewer (on the Landtrust Listserv) points out the passing of a Land Trust Pioneer. In the New York Times obituary the headline reads "Kingsbury Browne, Land Preserver, Dies at 82. Nice way to be remembered, isn't it?
Browne's biggest legacy may be the Land Trust Alliance, says the obituary...
Land trusts generally buy land or work out voluntary agreements with private owners that limit future development; typically they focus on farmland, forests, stretches of coastline and scenic vistas.
Mr. Browne's dedication to them underpinned the Land Trust Alliance, a national umbrella group for what had been a scattershot land-use movement. Since he helped form it in 1982, the alliance has given legal and institutional support, practical know-how and a collective voice to more than 1,500 land trusts around the country.
Mr. Browne joined the issue while counseling environmental groups and public agencies on tax matters. Then, on a sabbatical from his firm, Hill & Barlow, in 1980, he visited land trusts scattered around the country under the aegis of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Mass., and Harvard Law School.
The experience showed him that those isolated efforts - unlike the big established ones, like the Nature Conservancy - needed a national association and clearinghouse. He called a meeting in Cambridge to organize a Land Trust Exchange, soon renamed the Land Trust Alliance.
One of Mr. Browne's noted contributions was to adapt and apply to conservation the common-law concept of easement, in which a property owner may cede the right of way on the land for a road or transmission line. As developed by Mr. Browne, easements also permitted nonprofit preservation trusts to gain the owner's consent to keep a property undeveloped or maintain it as a forest or farmland, with the owner gaining a tax advantage in return.
Mr. Browne served as general counsel to the alliance for years. He was editor and chairman of its Conservation Tax Program and sat on the advisory council of the Trust for Public Land, a national conservation group. He retired as a partner in Hill & Barlow in 1992, when he became of counsel to the firm.

Preserver of Land, Father of the Conservation Easement... those are legacies to make anyone proud.


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