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Upstate land trust groups join liability insurance program

By Bill Poovey
Published May 20, 2013

Two Upstate land trust groups, Upstate Forever and Spartanburg Area Conservancy, have joined a new liability insurance program that provides coverage in conservation-related legal disputes.

Mary Walter, director of the Spartanburg group, said they never previously had liability insurance for protection in conservation-related lawsuits.

The Land Trust Alliance recently started the liability insurer, Terrafirma Risk Retention Group LLC, to help pay costs in conservation-related legal disputes for more than 20,000 properties in community land trusts in South Carolina, 45 other states and Washington, D.C.

Walter said the Spartanburg group — also known as SPACE — has never gone to court in such a lawsuit “but we have had to seek council and settle a dispute.”

“The land can be sold or deeded on down to an heir but those future landowners must abide by those stipulations that are in the conservation agreement,” Walter said.

She said the new coverage is needed as a backstop to their other liability insurance that already covers the conservancy’s decision-makers. She declined to discuss the cost of the new coverage.

SPACE since 1989 has protected and preserved natural areas of ecological, historical and aesthetic value. Through fee ownerships and conservation easements the group has protected 2,537 acres in Spartanburg and Union counties.

Upstate Forever has agreements to permanently protect 17,117 acres in the Upstate.