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B. Baseline Documentation Report

  • For each conservation agreement, have a baseline documentation report signed-off by the necessary technical expertise, with written descriptions, maps and photographs, that documents:
    • The conservation values protected by the agreement
    • The relevant conditions of the property as necessary to monitor and enforce the agreement
  • Prepare the baseline documentation report prior to closing and have it signed by the landowner and land trust at or prior to closing:
    • Baseline documentation reports that require technical data collection are prepared with the support of professional(s) having appropriate background and expertise
    • In the event that seasonal conditions prevent the completion of a full baseline documentation report by closing, the landowner and land trust sign a schedule for finalizing the full report and an acknowledgement of interim data at closing.
  • In the limited circumstances when there are significant changes to the land (such as a result of a wildfire or bank erosion) or the conservation agreement (such as a result of an amendment or the exercise of a permitted right), document those changes in an appropriate manner, such as through monitoring reports, a baseline supplement or current conditions report.
  • The landowner and the land trust each hold at least one original copy of the signed baseline documentation report.


Baseline documentation reports are critical for establishing the condition of the property at the time the conservation agreement is transferred, and are the basis of future monitoring and enforcement. In addition, for conservation agreements for which a federal tax deduction is granted under the Ecological Gifts Program, the compilations of some baseline documentation are required at the time of closing. While it is sometimes difficult for land trusts to prioritize or gather all the data required, baseline reports should be completed prior to closing, and signed by the landowner and the land trust at closing. In the event of poor seasonal conditions for documenting the important conservation values of the property, an interim baseline report with an acknowledgement that the interim report will be replaced by a full baseline documentation report can be signed by both parties at closing and recorded/registered where possible. The interim report can include all of the data available by the date of closing and should indicate when the final report will be completed. The use of interim reports and acknowledgements of full reports with the land trust and landowner’s signature has proven effective in regions of the country where ground conditions prevent the completion of the full baseline documentation report at closing. In the past, land trusts may have accepted conservation agreements without a baseline documentation report. In these cases, the land trust should have a plan for completing documentation for all conservation agreements. Where possible, the land trust may wish to involve the landowner in the collection of baseline information as a means of establishing a working relationship between the two parties. Both the landowner and the land trust should have a copy of the baseline documentation report with the land trust having two copies; one for safekeeping and the other for monitors to use in the field.