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Conservation Easement


Neilson, Swanson, Dietrich, Smith, PLLC, is among the region's few law firms capable of providing qualified and experienced advice to landowners and their advisors on tax and real estate aspects of conservation easement transactions.  The firm is also uniquely qualified to advise land trusts on conservation transactions and the ongoing stewardship and operational requirements imposed on land trusts by federal tax law and accreditation by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.  The firm advises on complex issues involving conservation easements such as amendments, restatements, assignments, private benefit analyses, subordinations, qualified appraisals, and deeds allocating reserved rights; provides services to land trusts relating to conservation easement interpretation, stewardship, and enforcement, up to and including enforcement through litigation; and provides consulting, educational, dispute resolution, and expert witness services involving conservation easements.

Before co-founding Neilson, Swanson, Dietrich, Smith, PLLC, Christian P. Dietrich (the firm's primary practitioner in the land conservation area) served as General Counsel for the Montana Land Reliance, one of the nation's preeminent land trust organizations, where he successfully advised on the completion of over 100 conservation easements on some of Montana’s premier agricultural and recreational properties, totaling more than 250,000 acres, and helped steward MLR’s million-plus-acre portfolio of nearly 1,000 conservation easement properties.  Christian speaks and writes frequently on conservation easement tax law and legal issues in Montana and around the country, serves on the national Land Trust Alliance's Conservation Defense Advisory Council, and is the co-author of Conservation Easements: Tax and Real Estate Planning for Landowners and Advisors (American Bar Association, 2011).

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