LAVWCD Conservation Easement Baseline Inventory Guidelines

IRS regulations state that an easement donor must make available to the donee “documentation sufficient to establish the condition of the property at the time of the gift.”

  • Data should be specific and clearly defined in enough detail to allow for meaningful future comparison i.e. – quantitative documentation
  • Include no more than necessary
  • Only the resources that the easement seeks to protect must be documented
  • Document the state of the land to the degree necessary to provide a common reference point for future inspections
  • Data should be objective and easy to duplicate Vantage points of each photograph must be recorded to be of use to future monitors

The regulations specify two musts:

1. If the terms of the donation contain restrictions with regard to a particular natural resource to be protected, the condition of the resource at or near the time of the gift must be established

2. The documentation, including the maps and photographs, must be accompanied by a statement signed by the donor and a representative of the donee clearly referencing the documentation and in substance saying, “This natural resources inventory is an accurate representation of the protected property at the time of the conveyance of the easement.

The regulations specify that documentation may include:

  • USGS maps
    • Showing property lines and other contiguous or nearby protected areas
  • A map of the area drawn to scale showing
    • All existing man-made improvements or incursions, roads, buildings, fences, or gravel pits
    • Vegetation and identification of flora and fauna
      • Include rare species locations
      • Animal breeding and roosting areas and migration route
      • Land use history
        • Include present uses
        • Recent past disturbances
        • Distinct natural features such as large trees and aquatic areas
  • An aerial photograph of the property
    • At an appropriate scale, taken as close as possible to the date of donation
    • On-site photograph of the property, taken at appropriate locations on the property

Beyond these requirements, the volume and specificity of the information that the grantee should record in the baseline inventory depend on the terms of each easement. The rights and restrictions written into the easement should be used to define specifically what information should appear in the inventory documentation report.

Baseline Data Form

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