Monday, April 5, 2010

Colorado Coalition of Land Trusts (CCLT) – 2010 Conference: LLM Student Kate Williams-Shuck Reports on Conference

I attended the CCLT 2010 conference on March 15, 2010. As an LLM student this was a wonderful way to network with people in the land conservation community and learn more about current topics in the Colorado conservation easement world.

The conference began with a review of current state and federal tax incentive legislation. Representatives from both Senator Mark Udall’s and Senator Michael Bennet’s offices spoke briefly and answered questions about current legislation and their conversations with the IRS that are extremely relevant to Colorado’s conservation easement future.

Some of the highlights from outside the regular conference sessions included a few inspiring words from Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, and a presentation on how the dioramas, an artist’s 3-D depiction of a scene, at the Museum of Nature and Science have changed when compared to pictures of the same landscapes today. After listening to a few words from Mayor Hickenlooper, I was encouraged about the future of Colorado. Mayor Hickenlooper said that he wants this campaign to be all positive with zero negative ads, as his campaign was when he ran for mayor. He told a story about starting the Wynkoop Brewery where he would advertise for other restaurants in his restaurant but his own staff thought he was crazy for promoting other businesses. However, his idea was simple. If you can draw more people to the area for dinner and lunch it is good for everyone in the community. Having never heard Mayor Hickenlooper speak before this event, I found it refreshing to hear a very uplifting, positive, and encouraging message, given what is going on these days in Washington.

From my perspective, the most educational part of the conference was the last session where a panel discussed what the Western Governors' Association (“WGA”) was doing to plan renewable energy development in the 16 western states. Because I am writing my LLM thesis on renewable energy development, it was extremely informative. It was great to see that there planning at all levels of government. The panel noted that the WGA struggled to find data on where conservation easements exist in order to plan around them for siting transmission lines. Gathering data on the location of conservation easements and presenting it in a searchable and readily available format will be critical in the coming years if there is any hope of convincing states and the federal government to plan around conservation easements. Attending the CCLT conference gave me a lot more ideas for researching possible solutions to the problem of siting renewable energy to include in my thesis.

For anyone wanting to learn more about conservation easements I highly recommend taking Prof. Jessica Jay’s Land Conservation Transactions course. It touches on property law, water law, contracts, and environmental law to name a few. It is the most practical 3-credit course I took in either law school or the grad program at DU.

Kate Williams-Shuck
LLM Student 2010

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