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October 22, 2014
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Land trust sets gas guidelines; a milestone true to its mission


The Conservancy protects land that possesses special conservation values; it would be incompatible with our mission to protect land in which those conservation values may be diminished by drilling and its associated activities and infrastructure. Only in cases of exceptionally important lands where there are assurances that drilling will have no impacts will we consider acquiring a conservation easement.
Much research, thought and deliberation have gone into these guidelines. We feel that they represent both a rational and a principled response to the threat our region faces.
The Conservancy promotes the extraordinary value of the region's working farms and forests, natural spaces and clean waters through education, partnerships and publications as well as through our land protection efforts. We seek to lead in connecting communities to these abundant natural resources, and to communicate the necessity of protecting them. We have endeavored to make our approach to gas drilling consistent with these goals.

Guidelines

These guidelines govern amendment of existing conservation easements as well as new easement donations. The Land Protection Committee will adopt procedures and criteria intended to ensure compliance with these guidelines.

1. Delaware Highlands Conservancy (Conservancy) will not enter into any lease for extraction of natural gas (including subsurface-extraction only leases) on any property owned by the Conservancy.

2. Delaware Highlands Conservancy will not accept new conservation easements for properties for which a surface-disturbance gas lease is in effect or accept a new easement that would allow for the donor or a subsequent owner to sign a surface-disturbance lease. However, if, in the judgment of the Land Protection Committee (LPC), the property is large enough, has extraordinary conservation values, and the terms of the gas lease would not permit activities that could impair those conservation values, then the Land Protection Committee may set forth the extraordinary characteristics of the property, describe the measures that have been or will be imposed to ensure that gas extraction does not harm the conservation values of the property, and recommend that the Board waive this prohibition and accept the easement. The Board may in its sole discretion reject the LPC’s recommendation and decline to accept the easement.