A new insurance company designed to help land-conservation trusts with the legal costs of fighting property owners who defy land-use restrictions has won approval for nonprofit status from the Internal Revenue Service, according to The New York Times.
The company, Terra Firma, was started by national Land Trust Alliance to combat a problem that the nation’s estimated 1,700 land trusts increasingly face. The legal costs of fighting improper land use can damage the mostly volunteer-run organizations, say leaders of those groups.
Thus far, the alliance has raised $3-million of the $4-million it says it will need to get Terra Firma off the ground.
The number of trusts and the acreage they protect grew rapidly over the past decade, fueled by falling property prices during the recession. Parallel to that growth, however, Land Trust Alliance officials say they began seeing more property owners ignore land-use covenants.
“It’s unfortunate that this is happening more often,” Leslie Ratley-Beach, the conservation director of the national alliance, told the Times. “But that is something we expected as the land that’s conserved changes hands.”