We expect to open the grant program in the latter part of 2022.
This largely depends on the readiness of the partner to close!
From start to finish, the process will most likely take a year or more. If your land trust has already received an OSWA award but has not yet closed, securing funding through the federal easement program can take approximately 6 months to complete an agreement. The acquisition and closing could take an additional year. If your land trust is concurrently seeking funds from OSWA and the federal government, the process can take approximately 18-24 months.
That depends upon whether it is a U.S. (i.e., NRCS) or an "entity" (e.g., Land Trust A agrees to partner with Land Trust B by holding the easement) held easement.
Landowner in all cases i.e., US-held/Entity-held will have to meet NRCS program eligibility requirements.
Further detail may be found in RCPP policy manual… Coming Soon.
Evaluating each option will be part of the technical assistance your land trust will receive as part of the CCPP. Numerous factors will be considered, including whether another land trust or a municipality is interested in serving as the entity to hold the federal easement.
The easement holder will depend on the type of easement. For U.S.-Held easements, NRCS holds the easement – there will be second conservation easement through OSWA held by DEEP. For Entity-Held easements, government entities (e.g., Town, City or State) and conservation organizations (e.g., land trusts) can hold the easement, which will be a combined federal-state easement document.
Per NRCS guidelines, entities eligible to hold federal easements are land trusts or other qualified land conservation organizations, NGOs, Indian Tribes, and Local and State Governments, provided the entity has a demonstrated commitment to long-term conservation; the authority and capability to acquire, manage, and enforce easements, the staff capacity (either directly or through formal agreement with other entities) dedicated to monitoring and easement stewardship, and the ability to satisfy the non-Federal share requirements for each parcel (through own funds or grants, such as OSWA)
Yes, but what you may include depends upon which easement type you select. For U.S.-Held easements allowed costs include the easement itself, acquisition related costs (e.g., appraisal, survey, due diligence, title and closing services), and restoration implementation costs. For Entity-Held easements allowed costs include the easement itself, costs for NRCS technical appraisal review, and NRCS environmental database search.
Steps between award and closing include typical pre-acquisition activities – appraisal tech reviews, surveys, AAI, environmental assessments, title searches, etc.
- U.S.-Held Easements: NRCS is responsible for long-term stewardship
- Entity-Held Easements: Eligible-Entity is responsible for long-term stewardship
No. In that case, your land trust will need to partner with either NRCS (U.S.-Held Easement) or an eligible entity, such as a neighboring land trust or your municipality (Entity-Held Easement.) (Scenario #s 1 and 2).
Yes. (Scenario #3)
For entity held easements, CLCC plans to work with NRCS and DEEP to create standard documents that include federal and state terms for the 6 deed options. There is some degree of negotiation permitted but no more than what is currently available in the OSWA program. For US-Held easements, there is no negotiation other than choosing what level of restriction you want the easement to include: least restrictive, moderately, most restrictive. The % awarded corresponds directly with the restriction level i.e., you are eligible for the highest percentage of grant award for easement with the most restrictive terms. The most restrictive terms best mirror the OSWA easement terms.
The new template will not be broadly flexible. Once the AG's office/DEEP and NRCS agree on the terms, that will likely be it.
No. The terms regarding amendment will be standard government terms.
Yes, the federal easement program will require its own appraisal.
Yes. – All appraisal reports or appraisal services must be obtained from a qualified appraiser using the applicable NRCS appraisal specifications and statement of work – which could depend on the type of NRCS easement.
Here is the language from the manual. RCPP Policy Manual Coming Soon.
Part 527 – Easement Common Provisions
Subpart E – Appraisal
D. NRCS easement acquisition appraisals must be completed in accordance with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) except as provided in paragraph E. All appraisals must comply with NRCS appraisal specifications and statement of work. The estate to be appraised includes only the acres to be encumbered by the easement.
E. For ACEP-ALE and FRPP only, the eligible entity may obtain appraisals completed in accordance with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (UASFLA). UASFLA uses the larger parcel concept, which involves not only the land proposed for the easement area but all surrounding land that meets the valuation definition of the larger parcel. The valuation of the effect of the easement is based upon Federal rules, which consider any loss in value to the whole property as well as any increase in value of the whole property due to placing the easement on the property.
Not necessarily. The two programs are separate, other than pooling the grants to purchase the property/easement.
If you mean you are entitled to more dollars than you need for the match, then the grant award(s) will be adjusted accordingly i.e., under CGS the awards combined can't be more than 90% of the property's (or easement's) FMV (with some exception at the discretion of the Commissioner.)
As of now, the monitoring responsibilities are about the same.
1. TBA. CLCC plans to offer the following templates for your land trust’s review as part of technical assistance services, and consultation with your counsel:
- U.S.-Held Easement
- Consolidated Entity-Held Easement Combining OSWA and Federal Terms
There is no direct support for the easement holder. Land trusts are encouraged to negotiate stewardship reserves as part of the agreement with landowner.
Same answer as above for Entity-held easements. For U.S.-held easements, NRCS is doing the monitoring.
Good question! Land trusts partnering with each other to hold the federal easement strengthens regional partnerships and conservation impact. It allows larger staffed land trusts to assist smaller land trusts and adds to the portfolio of easement holder. All of which leads to saving more land, attracting members and funders, and reinforcing local relationships. For some landowners, working with private nonprofits is preferable to working with government entities.