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  Buy Your License

 

The Application Process

 

Any private landowner, conservation organization, landowner association, sportsmen's club, corporation, or land trust can apply to LIP for project funding. All privately owned (non-governmental) land in Vermont is eligible. Land containing priority natural communities and at-risk plants and animals will be the focus of funding. Although land anywhere in Vermont is eligible, land located in the Champlain Valley will be given a higher priority. As described above, these lands have been designated as geographical focus area for the first round of funding.

 

What types of projects will LIP fund?

 

The Department's role in implementing LIP is to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners for projects that enhance, protect, or restore habitats that benefit species-at-risk on privately owned lands. Working in coordination with landowners and other partners, staff biologists can uniquely design each project to best suit the needs of individual landowners, their land, and the diversity of wildlife present. The goal is to offer a variety of tools to landowners for rare and endangered plants and wildlife habitat conservation including funds for conservation easements and possibly cooperative management agreements over time.

 

Landowners are encouraged to propose creative, resourceful projects that result in direct benefit to species at risk. To be eligible, proposals must focus on work that will either: 1) restore, create, improve or maintain priority habitats or imperiled natural communities that are a benefit to LIP at-risk species, or 2) directly manage and protect LIP at-risk species.

 

Conservation Easements

 

Because the Landowner Incentive Program's ultimate goal is the permanent protection of the species-at-risk identified at each site, conservation easements are an important tool. The conservation easement is a legal document with a fundamental purpose of permanently protecting the desired condition of property by limiting the type and scope of development that can take place. Easement lands remain in private hands and on local tax rolls while providing such public benefits as natural areas, scenic vistas and wildlife habitat for future generations. Easements allow landowners to help preserve important aspects of their community and contribute to the region's quality of life. In some cases, farming and forestry activities may also continue.

 

Under the Landowner Incentive Program, when a landowner places an easement on their land, they voluntarily limit or relinquish some of the rights to your property, in return for the peace of mind that your property will remain in tact and available to the wildlife it supports. In order to guide the permitted uses, the conservation easement also includes a management plan specific to the at-risk resources occurring on the parcel. The Department will work with you to tailor an easement that protects the land's natural and cultural values as required by the landowner.

 

Land Management Agreements

 

Land management agreements are one time payments to landowners for management or 5 or 10-year agreements a landowner enters into with the state. These agreements outline specific management operations that the landowner will implement over a specific period of time. While land management agreements are possible with LIP funds, the F&WD has decided to use LIP funds to develop a conservation easement program initially, rather than trying to do both land management agreements and conservation easements. The reasons for doing so are limited staff capacity and a successful Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) in Vermont. Once a site is conserved with an easement, WHIP can provide funds for most necessary management we might need to manage the species-at-risk at the site. Over time, if we see that WHIP is not able to provide funds for all of the management activities we might want to do at a site, then we will revisit the idea of spending LIP funds on management. In addition, easements offer permanent protection making them the preferred mechanism for landowner financial assistance.

 

Willing Sellers Only

 

All applications must include either a signed Option Agreement or Purchase and Sale Agreement, or a letter from the land owner indicating their willingness to participate in the program.

 

Appraisal Standards

 

Easement appraisals must be completed in accordance with the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions (available at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/land-ack/) and the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP), and also must meet the requirements of the Uniform Relocation and Real Property Acquisition Policy Act (Public Law 91-646). The final report will consist of a complete appraisal and a self contained appraisal report.

 

Easement Purchase Price Determined by Appraised Value

 

The Department will not consider proposals requesting a purchase price greater than the appraised value of the easement.

 

Public Access

 

The intent of the Landowner Incentive Program is to protect rare, threatened and endangered species and associated habitat occurring on privately owned lands. While it is not necessary to allow public access on lands protected with LIP funds, we will evaluate accessibility at every site and when possible, work to secure public access.

 

Eligibility Requirements

 

To be eligible for LIP funds related to conservation of at-risk species and natural communities in the Champlain Valley and elsewhere in the state, proposals will need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Actions must occur on privately owned lands.

  • Parcels must lie within the Champlain Valley and contain habitat for one of the identified at-risk species and/or natural communities.

  • Parcels that lie outside the Champlain Valley must contain habitat for one of the additional species identified as at-risk.

  • All landowners must allow long-term monitoring on their property for all of the different types of projects.

  • An entity (either the state or a land trust) must be identified as willing and capable of holding and monitoring the easement.

  • A preliminary area conservation plan has been drafted that identifies this tract as appropriate for private landowner incentive program funding (e.g. a conservation priority AND appropriate for easement as opposed to fee acquisition).

  • A minimum of 25% of the project cost has been identified as match.

 

Eligible Uses of Funds

 

Many of the costs incurred in implementing the project are eligible for reimbursement by the Landowner Incentive Program. LIP funds are intended to be used on a reimbursement basis only. Funds may be used to cover the following costs:

  • Boundary surveys

  • Title Work

  • Appraisals

  • Baseline documentation

  • Landowner reimbursement for the value of the conservation easement

  • Staff time associated with easement development and negotiations

  • Environmental and archaeological assessments

  • Stewardship endowments

  • Conservation management plans

 

Application Procedures and Review Process

 

Anyone who is considering applying for LIP funds is encouraged to speak with the LIP Coordinator early on in the process. While the LIP application process is an open one with no deadlines, all applicants are required to submit a one-page Project Summary Form once they know they will be seeking LIP funds for the project and hence, putting together a more formal application at a later date.

 

Review, Ranking, and Nominations

 

All proposals will be reviewed and ranked by members of the LIP Selection Committee. The Selection Committee will review the proposals and allocate funding. All applicants will be contacted and notified of the status of their proposal after the final decisions have been made.

For more information on the application process, please see:

 

 

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