If you have protected farmland, forests or open space in your community, there’s a good chance you have Steve Small to thank. A legal pioneer who paved the way to make conservation easements tax-deductible in the U.S., Small wrote federal tax regulations credited with facilitating the conservation of millions of acres of private land.
Small is the new Kingsbury Browne Fellow at the Lincoln Institute, and the winner of the Kingsbury Browne Conservation Leadership Award from the Land Trust Alliance.
The fellowship and award, made in recognition of outstanding leadership, innovation and passion in land conservation, were announced Thursday at the Land Trust Alliance's Rally 2015: The National Land Conservation Conference, in Sacramento.
“Steve is an indefatigable source of energy and creativity for the use of easements and land conservation in America,” said James Levitt, Manager of Land Conservation Programs for the Lincoln Institute.
The Kingsbury Browne fellowship and award is named for the Boston tax lawyer who is considered the father of America's modern land trust movement, a network of land trusts that have conserved more than 37 million acres. Browne’s 1981 gathering of conservation leaders from across the country evolved into the Land Trust Alliance, today representing more than 1,100 member land trusts.
A special short film celebrating Browne’s life and career can be viewed here.
A former attorney-advisor in the Office of Chief Counsel of the IRS, Small wrote the federal Income Tax Regulations on Conservation Easements, a critical legal framework for private land conservation. He has been involved in the protection of more than 1.5 million acres of land, working with more than 500 property owners in more than 45 states on land conservation strategies.
The fellowship is just one piece of the Lincoln Institute’s active engagement in land conservation, which includes the publication of the Working Paper Cowboys and Conservation, the Policy Focus Report Conserving State Trust Lands and the book Conservation Catalysts, and the establishment of The Practitioners Network for Large Landscape Conservation, a group of leaders and innovators on the forefront of today's conservation strategies.
In the fellowship, Small will engage in research, writing and mentoring, under the Lincoln Institute's Department of Planning and Urban Form.
The Kingsbury Browne fellowship and award is in its tenth year. Previous winners were Jean Hocker, a former president of the Land Trust Alliance and longtime board member at the Lincoln Institute; Larry Kueter, a Denver attorney specializing in agricultural and ranchland easements in the West; Peter Stein, managing director of Lyme Timber Co; Audrey C. Rust, president emeritus of the Peninsula Open Space Trust based in Palo Alto, Calif.; Jay Espy, executive director of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation; Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society; Laurie A. Wayburn, co-founder of the Pacific Forest Trust; Mark Ackelson, president of the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation; and Darby Bradley, president of the Vermont Land Trust.