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Exhibit A

While one can debate many of the details, the following principles, strategies and values must be incorporated in any plan for it to be successful against the goal sought to be achieved through S.2187:

  1. Hybrid land estate: We must recognize that our emphasis on land being either public or private has been too simple and a real part of the problem. A great deal of the required solution is coming to understand that we need a greater emphasis on the creation of a larger hybrid land estate throughout America that can achieve our conservation needs and in many instances connect our fully public land to our fully private and enhance them both. This hybrid land estate must remain privately owned and managed, but simultaneously must also be burdened with the loss of certain development rights that the public has acquired voluntarily from the owner at fair market value and holds in perpetuity for the benefit of all of us. These hybrid lands, while staying in private ownership and supporting private purposes, would also serve the public and its collective needs by protecting our water, cleaning the air, conserving habitat for our natural species, maintaining our farm and ranch lands and by offering "green" space to all of us. Fortunately, we have a 25-year history of working with conservation easements, which is the legal tool that creates this hybrid estate. Funding conservation easements must therefore be at the center of any such program.
  2. Leveraged Focus: The program's focus must be sharp and it must. be on reinvesting in, and thereby strengthening, our natural estate. The use of conservation easements would allow us to acquire from the landowner only that portion of the real estate necessary to accomplish our goals. Use of conservation easements would therefore offer the substantial advantage of allowing us to accomplish a great deal more conservation than we would with equivalent dollars expended for the full acquisition of the property. This strategy would also allow us to avoid the on-going costs associated with managing and operating the property [1].

[1] This is more succinctly stated in the report published by the Western Governors' Association, The Trust for Public Land, and National Cattlemen's Beef Association, entitled "Purchase of Development Rights: Conserving Lands, Preserving Western Livelihoods", January, 2001: "[Purchase of development rights through conservation easements] makes economic sense in the West: it is a compensatory approach to conservation that protects land from development pressure at prices that are more affordable for the public than outright purchase, and it helps keep farmers and ranchers on the land, providing essential stewardship and contributing to the tax base." (Page 5) and "The dire need to create substantial, dedicated funding sources for state and local [Purchase of Development Rights] programs can hardly be overstated." (page 12)

  1. State Involvement: Every state must be involved and incented to participate in this program. While a portion of this reflects that every state has environmental stresses that must be addressed, this also recognizes that environmental systems, such as rivers, prairies, forests, and all of the species that they support, do not know state lines. To be successful over time, and to protect our overall investment, we must therefore have every state moving in a similar direction.
  2. Partnerships: We must recognize that the most effective conservation has been the result of public/private partnerships and therefore any plan must put their creation at its center. Congress must set the strategic direction and must set both the importance and pace of the program by the amount of capital that it allocates to it; the states must be involved in coordinating the activities at their level and in helping to set local priorities; and the private sector must lead the execution. As part of this, we must understand and appreciate that conservation easements are bought and sold one family landowner at a time. The best and most expeditious way to negotiate and close those transactions will be to leverage the existing resources of the nonprofit conservation community, including the community leaders across America that serve on their board of directors. The nonprofit land conservation organizations therefore must also be at the center of any such plan.
  3. Use and scale of capital: Use of capital under this program should be limited to the costs of acquiring and supporting conservation easements. By doing so, Congress would be putting specific restrictions on the use of the capital in accordance with existing law that happens to be consistent with our program's objectives. The scale of the capital should reflect the deep needs of our country but should also be calibrated between what is possible to execute as well as what is needed to unlock the focus, imagination and energy of the most people to respond to this challenge.
  4. Urgency: The dollars should be allocated to states pursuant to specific deadlines and, if the money is not spent within those deadlines, it should be redistributed to those parts of our country with more pressing needs and that also have the immediate capacity and desire to execute.
  5. Equity: We must recognize that the conservation and restoration of our. natural estate is everyone's responsibility. Paying for it rather than simply accomplishing it through regulation or relying on the generosity of the few reflects this value. We should certainly keep our current donation system in place and encourage its generous use. But by creating a system that is based on acquisitions of conservation easements at fair market value, we can move to a program that not only allows everyone to participate, but also allows us to negotiate for clearer results, act more strategically, and establish our own pace of execution: all critically important to the success of our effort.
  6. Tax credits: To be successful, we must get as many people involved in America as possible. The best way to achieve this is not through direct appropriations, which is a process involving relatively few people, but instead to use tax credits, which is a process that ultimately includes a lot of people. A program based on tax credits will invite and incent those organizations that wish to deploy the credits to get more individuals and businesses involved in these issues and their solutions. This will require a process of education and engagement that will result in much more attention, understanding, and commitment to the resolution of these issues. It will also allow us to move at the much quicker response pace that our natural estate crisis requires.
  7. Strategic conservation: Because of the way in which we have financed a great deal of conservation in this nation, much of it has been done opportunistically as distinct from strategically. What this means by example is that we have acquired a site here and there as they have become available or as someone has been able to afford to give them, but collectively they do not necessarily support or maintain an ecosystem. In those instances, not only do they not fully accomplish a natural estate goal, but by failing to do so they devalue, in some instances, the investment or gift that has been made. The system that we establish must allow us to move to strategic conservation. By allocating a set amount on an annual basis on a state-by-state basis with appropriate sunset provisions, we would allow and incent states and landowners to respond strategically to these issues.

S.2187 prescribes a plan that reflects each of the nine values, strategies, and principles stated above. It is entirely centered on conservation easements; dollars are allocated to every state on a fair basis which assures the participation of every state; it puts a non-profit conservation organization at the center of the plan, but in the context of a direct working partnership with federal and state government; the capital that it allocates may only be used for the acquisition and requirements of conservation easements; it proposes a spending level that scales to the need as well as communicates the importance of the need; there are specific deadlines that will motivate states and land owners alike; it allows each of us to participate in the conservation and restoration of our natural estate; it is centered on tax credits rather than direct appropriations; and it will allow strategic conservation planning and execution.