Conservation Easement Oversight Commission & Workgroups
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Conservation Easement Oversight Commission & Workgroups

The Commission

Pursuant to sections 12-15-103 & 106, C.R.S., the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission is an eight-member body whose mission is to:

  • Determine whether a conservation easement donation for which a tax credit is claimed is a "qualified conservation contribution" as defined in Internal Revenue Code section 170(h) 

  • Advise the Division and the Department of Revenue regarding conservation easements for which a state income tax credit is claimed

  • Review conservation easement tax credit certificate applications and requests for optional preliminary advisory opinions

  • Advise and make recommendations to the Division regarding the certification of conservation easement holders 

  • The Conservation Easement Oversight Commission shall meet at least quarterly. Meetings are open to the public. 

Commissioners

Members of the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission are volunteers with specific qualifications set forth in section 12-15-103(1), C.R.S.. 

  • Courtney Bennett, representing the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Program
  • Tim Mauck, representing the Department of Natural Resources
  • Alyssa Clarida, representing the Department of Agriculture
  • Sarah Parmar, representing a Certified Conservation Easement Holder, appointed by the Governor
  • Paul Holsinger, representing a Certified Conservation Easement Holder, appointed by the Governor
  • William Fales, an Individual Qualified to Analyze Conservation Purpose, appointed by the Governor
  • Jill Ozarski, a member of the general public, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives 
  • Lee Hancock, a member of the general public, appointed by the President of the Senate 

Members representing state agencies and/or programs are permanent and serve at the pleasure of the agency or program.

Members appointed by the Governor may serve up to two consecutive terms of two or three years, depending on the term of the initial appointment. They are selected from across Colorado and no more than two may be from the same political party.

Members appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate each may serve up to two consecutive three-year terms. Both serve at the pleasure of the Speaker and the President, respectively.

Meeting Agendas and Minutes

Open Embed

Open Embed

1291 Working Group

The working group's report was submitted to the Agriculture Committees and Transportation Committees of both the House and Senate, respectively, on November 27, 2018.

For a scanned version of the much shorter narrative portion of the HB 18-1291 working group report, please click here.

Click here for the original 1291 Working Group Questionnaire issued August 21, 2018. This questionnaire sought detailed ideas concerning four specific matters raised in section 39-22-522 (3.8), C.R.S., regarding Colorado's conservation easement tax credit program, as amended by HB18-1291. 

Click here for the questionnaire responses, and here for documentation submitted in response to the survey, along with additional responses sent directly to the Division.

As background, you may want to review the signed bill here.

Participation in the working group was open between August 21 and November 15, 2018. 

1264 Working Group

The 1264 Working Group was formed pursuant to HB19-1264, which was signed by Governor Polis on June 3, 2019. The law extends the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission and the Division of Conservation program to certify conservation easement holders to July 1, 2026.

The working group was established to resolve outstanding challenges of the program prior to the establishment of the Division, specifically around landowner settlements, orphaned easement administration, and alternative valuation methods. Representatives appointed to the working group included landowners, conservation attorneys, and land trust representatives.

The working group and its issue teams discussed policy recommendations at meetings that were open to the public, and submitted the HB19-1264 Working Group Final Report with Recommendations on November 26, 2019. 

Policy Recommendation Highlights

1.      Landowner Settlements

The proposed policy would reinstate the fair market value of disallowed credits between 2000 and 2013, less any settlement values with the Colorado Department of Revenue. Settlements could be in the form of credits or refunds and may cost as much as $147 million. The recommendation is to fund payments from previous years’ unused tax credit caps or, if needed, from up to half of future years’ credit cap.

2.      Orphaned Easement Administration

Orphaned or abandoned easements would be evaluated by the Division of Conservation and the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission to determine which easements can be readily transferred to a qualifying entity, which easements need to be amended before being transferred, and which easements cannot be reformed. For easements placed in the first two categories, the Division of Conservation would work with interested conservation organizations on the assignment of those easements. Easements in the third category would be submitted to the Attorney General’s office to process for extinguishment.

3.      Alternative Valuation Methods

This proposed policy would adjust the tax credit formula to increase the percentage that a grantor can claim (up to 90%). A pilot program for alternative valuation was not finalized. The recommendation is to continue that research and planning until a pilot program is developed.

Appointed Members

Co-Chairs

  • Alan Gentz, landowner

  • Erik Glenn, executive director, Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust

Additional Members

  • Don Brown, farmer and rancher, former commissioner of agriculture

  • Melissa Daruna, executive director, Keep It Colorado

  • Jay Fetcher, rancher

  • Belinda Groner, landowner

  • Jillane Hixson, farmer and rancher

  • Jessica Jay, conservation easement attorney