Sarah Bates’ Report: ‘Land Trusts & Water – Strategies & Resources for Addressing Water in Western Land Conservation’
March 1, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Just got an email from good friend and one of the best thinkers/writers on Western land and water issues, Sarah Bates. She sent me a copy of her latest report, Land Trusts and Water: Strategies and Resources for Addressing Water in Western Land Conservation. It is published by the Land Trust Alliance.
This report has real practical information. Great appendices!
Land and water are inextricably connected, and protecting one often necessitates protecting the other. Water is essential to protect natural areas, such as wetlands, riparian habitat, irrigated pastures and urban greenways—all areas of importance to western land trusts. Likewise, sound land management practices are essential to protect and enhance water quality and aquatic habitat— as evidenced by land trusts’ efforts to protect watershed health through a variety of conservation tools. This dynamic is especially apparent in the western United States where the scarcity of water means that conservationists need to look at the whole system to be successful in protecting a part.
Increasingly, land trusts are interested in addressing water in their transactions with landowners. In many cases, land trusts seek to ensure that existing irrigation practices continue in order to protect the values of productive working lands and the related habitat benefits of return flows. In other cases, land trusts seek opportunities to conserve water to augment streamflows, as well as to enhance wetlands, riparian habitat and other water-related conservation values. Some land trusts work in close partnership with water trusts, which are nonprofit organizations that engage in and facilitate transactions that involve conservation measures, physical improvements (such as structural upgrades or low flow channels) and returning water to important streams that have dried up. Western states recognize and provide protection for the public values of instream flows, although laws and programs vary considerably among states.
This book offers practical tools and resources to help land trusts address water-related conservation values in their private land conservation work. While emphasizing instream flows, many of the approaches described are applicable more generally to water-related conservation values, such as riparian habitat, wetlands and seasonal water bodies. This book will help readers identify the various ways water concerns arise in land trust transactions and understand different approaches to address those concerns. Chapter one provides an orientation to the ways land and water trusts address water as a conservation value, including comparison of their approaches and observations about shared goals and strategies. Chapter two goes on to present the highlights of a survey of conservation organizations working to protect land and water in the West. This chapter offers case studies of organizations doing innovative work. Lastly, the book concludes with final thoughts in the Afterword and a series of appendices that are a rich resource of information, from an overview of western water laws and instream flow programs to sample water rights language in conservation easements to sample water lease agreements. The book also contains a list of additional resources and a glossary that offers full definitions of important terms (sidebar definitions are abbreviated in some cases).
Currently, there are two distinct strategies for addressing water in relation to private land conservation:
1) Conservation easement language. Easement language may address the risk that water rights associated with a conservation property might be transferred away from the property, to the detriment of the water-related conservation values. Easement language also seeks to accomplish a variety of different outcomes, including:
o Prohibiting a change of water use from irrigation or other existing applications
o Allowing a permanent or temporary change of use, as allowed by law, such as dedication for instream flow
o Explicitly requiring a change in the water right (including timing, point of diversion or place of use) in order to achieve conservation goals
Negotiating easement language is most successful when the land trust recognizes that the landowner will want to reserve some of the water rights for other uses, including conservation measures.
2) A separate water transaction. A public agency or facilitating organization, such as a water trust, may provide a valuable incentive (cash payment, direct subsidy or tax incentive) for a landowner to improve water infrastructure or to take other steps to make changes in land and water management on the conservation property. The landowner may redirect some of the existing water diversion to supplement streamflows or otherwise enhance the environment. These transactions include:
o Implementing irrigation improvements that allow operations to continue with more efficient use of water
o Applying other changes to water infrastructure, such as new headgates that divert water closer to the area of use to reduce stream depletions while still delivering the full quantity allowed
o Changing crops to less-thirsty varieties of plants o Forgoing diversions during all or part of the irrigation season
These strategies are not exclusive of one another, and they need not occur simultaneously. Each landowner has unique interests with regard to water, and the tool that works to address conservation values in one state or situation might not be available, appropriate or the best option in another. In some cases, funding sources require specific language regarding water rights to be included in conservation easement documents. In other cases, a temporary arrangement is the best way to build trust and to determine how modifications to water use might achieve mutual goals. Converting water away from traditional uses such as irrigation may raise concerns among landowners and agricultural community members. Acknowledging this reality, this book contains some practical approaches that strike a healthy balance among multiple land and water uses and community priorities, including water supplies and needs for grazing, farming, recreation, wildlife habitat and drinking water, as well as meeting legal obligations for water resources shared across basins and between states.
Although there is no single recipe for success, effective initiatives share the following strategies:
1) Develop a shared conservation vision with the landowner that includes water as part of a larger suite of conservation values. If the transaction aims to protect working lands under irrigation, continued application of water is an essential element of success. The same is true for agree- ments aimed at maintaining or restoring functioning riparian and aquatic habitats. As most water law experts conclude: “Land trusts ignore water rights at their peril.”
2) Conduct due diligence with regard to existing water rights when negotiating a private land conservation transaction that includes water-related conservation values. When a secure water supply is needed to sustain the conservation values, negotiate this requirement as part of the conserva- tion easement and recognize that the water rights will be an important element of the property appraisal, given the higher value of land that has reliable water. Even in cases in which it is not feasible to explicitly address the water rights in a conservation easement, a land trust should conduct water rights due diligence before completing the transaction. As part of this due diligence, planners should consider whether measures might be necessary to ensure continued access to essential water to protect the property’s conservation values. Due diligence includes evaluating the validity of the water right, its relative priority in relation to other water users’ rights on the stream and the ability to protect the water right if there is a shortage or conflict with other users. In some states, such as Colorado, conducting due diligence on encumbered water rights is a requirement for organizations to be certified to accept conservation easements that qualify for state tax exemption.
3) Share information with landowners about financial incentives for land and water management practices that will benefit streamflows. Working on the same principle of voluntary, market-driven transactions as land trusts, water trusts offer a variety of incentives for land and water management practices that will enhance streamflows and other aquatic resources on working landscapes. Land trusts are in the best position to provide this information to interested landowners, so they should become familiar with the range of opportunities available in their state or region.
4) Build and maintain cooperative relationships with organizations and individuals who have specialized knowledge of water rights and water transactions in your state. Although few land trusts employ water lawyers or experts in the administration of water rights, many have discovered the value of developing good relations with the owners and managers of water rights—from the farmers and ranchers themselves to the water districts, water-user associations, local and state agencies that manage water, water trusts and other organizations. The value of buildingand sustaining good working relationships with partner orga- nizations cannot be overstated. Land trusts can benefit by looking for opportunities to share information, providing a range of conservation opportunities for landowners and helping achieve complementary conservation goals. There is legitimate concern among both land and water trusts about limited funds available to finance land and water conservation, which can lead to a sense of competition that may inhibit the groups’ willingness to cooperate. Joint initiatives, such as the Deschutes Partnership, a collab- orative effort to restore the watershed of the Deschutes River in Oregon, have created opportunities for new and additional funding, which suggests that land and water trusts benefit by collaborating on strategies to maximize conservation outcomes and simplifying the conservation process for landowners.
The stories, tools and resources in this book seek to support and strengthen efforts to protect water resources as a regular part of private land conservation work and to encourage productive partnerships with water trusts and many other partners who share long-term goals of sustainable land and water use.
“The health of our water is the principal measure of how we live on the land.” —Luna Leopold (from theSummary)
February 28, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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I am now archiving (only since 21 February 2014) these posts on Twitterat: #WaWiNews Once you go to the site, on the right, click on ‘All’ just below ‘Results for #WaWiNews‘. All (since 18 March 2011) of them can also be found on the WaterWired blog - click here.
Shill alert: Check out this new book on the Mississippi River – out today – by Christine A. Klein and Sandra B. Zellmer: Mississippi River Tragedies: A Century of Unnatural Disaster. I know Christine from our time on the Bay-Delta Committee and I think she is pretty amazing. She’s a law professor at the University of Florida. I expect this to be an extraordinary book about a remarkable river and its trials and tribulations.
Here is the link to this week’s summary.
“Fossil fuels, globally, is going to be the primary fuel for the future.” – T. Boone Pickens, in the Calgary Herald.
February 21, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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The Olympics may almost be over, but there is no joy in Sochi. Here are President Putin and former President Medvedev grieving over the Russian hockey team’s loss to Finland, which eliminated them from the medal round. Putin reputedly said, ‘If we win the hockey gold medal, no other medals count. If we lose the hockey gold medal, no other medals count.” I suspect a number of hockey players were on the first flight out of the country.
Speaking of no joy, the Canadians beat the USA Women 3-2 for the gold medal and the USA Men 1-0. The Canadians will play the Swedes for the gold and the USA will take on the Finns for the bronze.
Shown above are some ‘flushable wipes’ that aren’t very flushable at all. It seemed appropriate.
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“Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared.” — Eddie Rickenbacker
February 14, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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No, this is not my cat – just the one on the card I gave to Mary Frances.
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‘She flies with her own wings.’ - Oregon state motto (‘Alis volat propriis’)
February 10, 2014 | Posted by cmccrehin
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In celebration of our 50th Anniversary, AWRA is offering free downloads of the January 2014 issue of Water Resources IMPACT.
With the topic of “The Future of Water Resources in the United States” and 18 articles on topics ranging from water law and pricing to floods, drought management and agriculture, and authors such as Gerald Galloway, Debra Knopman, Ben Grumbles and Brenda Bateman, this is already being called one of Water Resources IMPACT’s best issues ever.
See why several university instructors have already requested access to this issue for use in the classroom. Download your free copy of the January 2014 Water Resources IMPACT today!
February 7, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Lots of snow in Corvallis today. Maybe up to one foot (30 cm) more before it ends. Recalls my days shoveling snow in Truckee, CA, although I was 25 years younger.
Here is the link to the news.
“Do not use on your face because it contains something very dangerous.” ~ sign near bathroom sink in Sochi hotel room
JAWRA HIGHLIGHTS – February 2014
Shupe and Potter present a very timely (in light of recent fires) examination of watershed models of Yosemite National Park.
Driscoll et al. present the results of a field study of alum in reservoirs.
Lentz et al. explore the effects of credit stacking in a market when buyers and sellers of pollution credits can only reduce pollution with large, discrete investments.
Lamouroux et al. develop uncertainty models for the physical characteristics of large rivers in France.
Hogan et al. present another in a series of USGS-led collaborative studies documenting the effects of landscape changes in the Baltimore, Maryland area.
Woodbury et al. use SWAT with and without variable source area hydrology.
Tang et al. use LiDAR to evaluate playa wetlands.
David H. Moreau examines the relative value of water for hydropower and municipal supply.
Landon et al. look at the variables affecting the occurrence of hydrocarbons in public supply aquifers in California.
Owens et al. look at plunging inflows to Onondaga Lake.
Ferreira et al. evaluate Arc StormSurge.
Snelder et al. develop regression models of periphyton cover for New Zealand rivers.
Furl et al. examine precipitation trends across southwest Saudi Arabia.
January 31, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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California takes over from Canada as the most populated category this week. All about the drought, for sure.
The picture is a cloud created by Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde (story here).
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”The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” - Bertrand Russell (thanks to Faruck Morcos)
January 26, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Note: the thesis is supposedly downloadable at the blog site but I was unable to do so. Here is a copy for downloading:
She begins her post:
Two years ago I was working on my master’s degree, concentrating on water and its relation to sustainability. I was not quite sure of how to put my ideas together into a practical and meaningful application. As I was doing research for a paper on water privatization, I came across a small book by Robert William Sandford and Merrell-Ann S. Phare called Ethical Water: Learning to Value What Matters Most. This book, while small in size was big on content and became the basis for the rest of my academic career and the inspiration for my self-designed degree. All of my thinking about water seemed to suddenly find its focus.
Influenced by the Sandford-Phare book, she realized:
The issue with water went beyond the disproportionate amounts that people had access to and the shortages and lack of sanitation that were occurring around the world. The real problem seemed to be in how easily water was ignored by most people unless there was some issue relating to either its lack or abundance. It was not appreciated for its value in everything including not just health and sanitation, but manufacturing, transportation, energy, and literally every aspect of our lives. Without water there would be no life as we know it on earth.
So she changed the topic of her thesis and decided to focus on educating children as to the importance of water.
Expanding Water Awareness
When discussing the importance of water resource management, too often there is a separation between its demand and economic values, from its preservation within a sustainable infrastructure. In an ideal world these ideas or concepts would all be linked together as one functioning and healthy system. If this is not how the world views and deals with our water currently, how can this scenario be changed? This presentation takes a look at water ethics and how it is currently addressed. A growing population, environmental degradation, and a history of apathy show the need to bring water’s importance into our focus. One way to meet the need for water ethics education is to focus on our children while they are still accessible enough to value the natural environment, thereby inspiring an appreciation for water that can carry on throughout their lives. Water ethics education is first defined as an unmet need and the basis of this presentation. General education standards teach lessons on water in relation to science education only. However, water is an area that cannot be limited to one subject because it influences every area of our lives. It is therefore up to us to learn to reconnect with this element that gives and sustains our lives. This study is a window into what we must do to set the groundwork for educating our children today so that they can be better water stewards tomorrow, providing the framework for living in harmony with water in the future.
Wonderful idea – start early with the children! Now, to implement it.
I was struck by her allusion to the Sandford-Phare book. I read it two years ago and was duly impressed and inspired, although unlike Nancy, I seemed to have lost my way.
Much of the aforementioned reminded me of a recent discussion I had with a colleague. We both noted how we are getting bright, engaged students who want to change the world. So what do we do? We proceed to teach them the SOS that hasn’t worked too well. I lamented that I was reading some fascinating books (e.g., David Groenfeldt’s Water Ethics; Christiana Z. Peppard’s Just Water: Theology, Ethics, and the Global Water Crisis) that promulgated different approaches but I wasn’t introducing these concepts to my students.
It’s time for another read of Sandford and Phare, along with Nancy’s thesis. Then it’s time for action.
“Water is an essential element to the very existence of the ecosystem of the entire planet. As water is all around us, it is too easy to look through, instead of at it.” - Nancy Wells
January 24, 2014 | Posted by Michael "Aquadoc" Campana
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Two categories have an inordinate number of entries: Canada and WTF?. The former is heavily populated because of my attendance at the Canadian Water Network’s excellent Forum (go here to see all Tweets: #CWNForum). Why the latter category? No clue. But I am confident there is no correlation between the two anomalies. WTF?
Note to my Canadian friends: I resisted the temptation to include a picture of Bob and Doug McKenzie (well, not a big picture) or utter some inanity, eh?
Take off, hoser!
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‘You’re here to take our water,right? Tunneling under Lake Erie now.’ – Smiling Canadian border official, upon my entry into the Great White North