Practices

Conservation Easements

Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell has a national reputation for expertise in conservation easements and land conservation law.  We have more than 40 years’ experience counseling clients regarding conservation easements and other conservation transactions and techniques.  We have represented landowners and land trusts in hundreds of conservation easement transactions and we routinely work with land owners who are buying or selling rural recreational properties and other special landscapes.  We advise other conservation organizations as well as federal, state, county, municipal wildlife, and open space agencies, and serve as counsel to many national, state, and local land trusts.

Conservation easements are an essential part of the land use lawyer’s tool box, enabling clients to meet land preservation and open space goals, and to be eligible for tax benefits—including marketable tax credits in some states.  We counsel clients on the use of conservation easements in many different situations, including as a component to facilitate multi-party land exchanges and to close real estate transactions with both preservation and development aspects.  Owners of land under conservation easement, particularly working ranches, turn to us for assistance in maintaining the preserved lands intact from competing land uses and assertions of conflicting rights, such as oil and gas development and other access issues.

We have been involved in countless conservation easement transactions that have resulted in the protection of hundreds of thousands of acres.  Our experience is both broad and deep, including service on the board of directors of the Land Trust Alliance and as counsel to state and local trust coalitions, state and local land trusts, and as founding counsel to the Country’s first producer-based agricultural land trusts.

Our attorneys have experience with conservation easement-related legislation and have authored legislation pertaining to conservation easements and property tax, conservation easements and water rights, and state tax credits.  We also represent taxpayers in disputes with the Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities pertaining to conservation easements, and assist land owners and conservation easement holders in interpreting amendments and assessing and resolving violations of conservation easements.

Representative Projects

  • Represented private landowners in a series of both gift and bargain-sale conservation easements to protect a magnificent landscape along the Navajo River.
  • Represented the Forbes Trinchera Ranch in the conveyance of a conservation easement of more than 80,000 acres, the largest in Colorado at the time.
  • Handled conservation easement sales for various families in the $1 million to $10 million range.
  • Served as landowner counsel in the acquisition of 137,000-acre, national park-quality, rural recreation land in Las Animas County, Colorado.
  • Served as landowner counsel in the acquisition of many rural recreational properties and working ranches throughout Colorado in the 1,000 to 25,000 acre range.
  • Structured and implemented limited development projects, including Pine Cliff and Allis Ranch in Douglas County, Colorado; Wahl Coleman Ranch in Park County, Colorado; and Evans Ranch in Clear Creek County, Colorado, one of the nation’s first and leading limited development projects.
  • Served as founding counsel for various statewide land trusts and land trust coalitions.
  • Principal drafter of the original Colorado Conservation Easement Tax Credit Legislation (2000).
  • Participant drafter of every amendment to the Colorado Conservation Easement Tax Credit Legislation (2001–2015).

News & Publications

Presentations

Land Trust Alliance Rally 2018: The National Land Conservation Conference
10.12.18
Land Trust Alliance Webinar
02.06.18
Colorado Tax Credit Update
CCLT Conservation Excellence Conference
03.23.17
Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again: A Case Study of Fixing Orphan Conservation Easements
CCLT Conservation Excellence Conference
03.22.17
CCLT Conservation Excellence Conference
03.15.16
Land Trust Alliance Webinar
03.02.16
25 Years of Land Conservation: Looking Backward and Forward
Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute Conference
03.01.16
Appraisal Essentials
Land Trust Alliance Webinar
02.11.16
Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell CLE Seminar
11.12.15
CCLT Conservation Excellence Conference
03.17.14
4th Annual Land Trust Alliance Symposium on Advanced Legal Topics in Land Conservation
02.06.14
6th Annual CLE Conservation Easements Conference
08.10.12