Project Selection Criteria and Checklists
for Land and Conservation Easement Acquisitions

The following criteria are intended to guide the action of the District:

Goals and Purposes Checklist
To qualify for selection the property must meet ALL of these criteria:

[ ] The property is located within the LAVWCD Boundaries: i.e., Pueblo, Crowley, Otero, Bent or Prowers counties. Unusual circumstances may merit acquisition of land, land and water, water or easements beyond this service area.

[ ] The property is in a relatively undisturbed natural, scenic or historic condition, has recreational or agricultural value, or is in active agricultural use.

[ ] The property is of sufficient size that its conservation resources are likely to remain intact, even if adjacent properties are developed, or sufficient neighboring property is either already protected or to be protected as to have the same result.

[ ] Protection of this property aids sound land use planning, promotes land conservation, and encourages careful stewardship of land and water resources.

Public Benefit Checklist, including natural resource value
To qualify for selection the property must meet one or more of these criteria:

[ ] Contains endangered, threatened, or rare species or natural communities.

[ ] Contains relatively natural wildlife habitat, ecosystems, or natural features.

[ ] Contains or has potential to contain natural features of educational or scientific value.

[ ] Is in active agricultural use.

[ ] Contains wetlands, floodplains, waterways, riparian corridors, aquifer recharge areas, watershed or other lands necessary for protection of water supply, water resources or wetland habitat.

[ ] Buffers agricultural land, wetlands, wildlife habitats, or sensitive areas.

[ ] Provides a buffer for, or is close or contiguous to, existing conservation easement, park, preserve or other protected land.

[ ] Protects scenic views from public roadways, waterways or recreation areas.

[ ] Public access for education or recreation will be permitted.

[ ] Sets an important precedent for resource protection in a targeted area.

[ ] Provides connection to other open protected or open space lands that is important for movement of wildlife between habitats or through developed corridors so that natural areas do not become isolated “islands.”

[ ] Offers significant relief from urban closeness and/or helps define community form.

Other Favorable Factors
Property that meets the selection criteria and one or more of the following factors will be favored.

[ ] Threat of transfer of water rights outside Lower Arkansas River Basin.

[ ] Availability of non-LAVWCD funds to cover acquisition and stewardship costs.

Feasibility Checklist
Factors that may preclude District Involvement: A property may meet the selection criteria favoring a land protection proposal and still may not be accepted if one or more of the following considerations apply:

[ ] The property’s values are primarily scenic, but are not readily visible or accessible to the general public.

[ ] The property is small and there is little likelihood of adjacent properties being protected.

[ ] The ability to produce income through activities is detrimental to the property’s natural resource values.

[ ] The proposed open space is part of a development proposal which, overall, is likely to have significant adverse impacts on conservation resources.

[ ] Adjacent properties are being, or are likely to be, developed in a manner that would significantly diminish the conservation values of the property in question.

[ ] There is reason to believe that the land/easement would be unusually difficult to manage/enforce, for example, because of multiple or fractured ownerships, frequent incidence of destructive trespassing, fencing restrictions, irregular configuration, etc.

[ ] The landowner insists on provisions in a conservation easement that the District believes would seriously diminish the property’s primary conservation values or the District’s ability to enforce the easement.

[ ] Other conservation organizations have expressed an interest in conserving the land and can accomplish the protection of the land without LAVWCD.

[ ] Stewardship obligations with respect to the property exceed LAVWCD stewardship capacity.

[ ] It is unlikely LAVWCD could transfer its interest in the property to another long-term steward.

[ ] LAVWCD is being used to lessen or absolve another party from mandated cleanup obligations.

[ ] The environmental hazards associated with the property are of a size or a nature that acceptance of a property interest poses unacceptable liability risks to the organization, its officers, directors, employees or volunteers.

[ ] The property is found to be irreparably contaminated (hazardous waste) or contains physical hazards.

[ ] The property is not large enough to be significant for its purpose.

[ ] Ethical or public image problems exist in association with the acceptance of this project.

[ ] Significant problems or defects in title that cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of the District.

[ ] An encroachment, easement or boundary dispute could adversely affect the District’s ownership or management of the property.

As a general rule, conservation easements will not be considered for amending. Only for extenuating and compelling reasons should the board consider amending an easement and then only after evidence has been presented that there will be no net loss of the conservation value the easement was designed to protect. An amendment to a conservation easement may occur only if the change would strengthen or have a neutral effect on the easement provisions.

The Board’s Discretionary Role
All the preceding notwithstanding, the Board of Directors retains discretion over acquisition or disposition and will evaluate each project and proposal on its own merits after careful investigation of the property, its resources, and its public benefits.

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