What do reviewers look for in applications?
Specific reviewer guidelines are provided here that correspond to public benefits, so please check those first. In addition, clear and straightforward Instruments of Transfer are not only helpful in the review process, but also should make it easier to monitor and steward the conservation property in perpetuity. Where there are retained rights, the reviewers look for a balance that provides adequate conservation of the environment and natural resources.
Other things that get extra scrutiny from reviewers and could prevent certification:
Can a home site be reserved within the conservation area and still get the tax credit?
This is a difficult question, but the reviewers have worked to identify an approach to take in this regard. This general rule for a reserved home site is used, in order of preference:
Some programs have a rule of thumb for the number of reserved home sites (e.g., for the USDA Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, one home site is allowed per the average size farm in the area, which usually translates to one home site per 50-100 acres). Of course, fragmentation is a great concern for wildlife habitat, so home sites will be carefully evaluated in non-farmland projects.
Public benefits (conservation values) must be protected in perpetuity:
In order to qualify for conservation tax credit, the conservation values of the property must also be protected in perpetuity. Adequate protection of land requires ownership or oversight by an organization or entity whose mission is to protect the significant conservation values, and provision for such oversight in perpetuity. The public benefit of a transaction can be lost if the conditions of the agreement are not maintained into the future. For both fee simple and conservation easement donations, the recipient should have the ability to monitor and defend the conservation lands, and must be committed to retaining the public benefits. This type of review may be out of the purview of the resource agency reviewers, such as the Natural Heritage Program, so it will likely be incumbent on the Department of Revenue and Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure, to the extent possible under the General Statutes, that recipients are qualified and have sufficient resources to monitor, manage and/or defend conservation lands.