What is the Land Conservation Law Program?
This new initiative will offer legal services to Wisconsin land trusts and deliver continuing legal education opportunities across the state.
As part of this new program, Gathering Waters will convene a Land Conservation Law Council of experienced attorneys to help shape and guide the program.
Chris Gutschenritter will serve as the first Director of the Land Conservation Law Program.
Chris is an environmental attorney with experience serving Wisconsin’s land trust community in various capacities since 2016. Prior to joining Gathering Waters, he served as the Director of Land Conservation and Stewardship at a land trust in southeast Wisconsin.
Chris has also worked as an independent legal consultant specializing in Clean Water Act permitting and agricultural law and policy. He completed a dual degree program at Vermont Law School in 2011 earning a J.D. and a Master’s of Environmental Law and Policy.
More recently, while serving as a contractor to Gathering Waters, Chris led a collaborative effort to draft a Model Conservation Easement for Wisconsin. The model is intended to promote best practices, reduce the time and cost of drafting conservation easements, and encourage uniformity and improved clarity.
The Wisconsin land trust community has grown dramatically over the past three decades—from around a dozen organizations in the mid-1990s to 41 that exist today. During that time, these organizations have worked with several talented attorneys to permanently protect more than 200,000 acres of land, involving 1,200 distinct conservation easements. With several of these long-serving attorneys approaching retirement, Gathering Waters has identified a need to broaden the community of practice of legal professionals with experience drafting conservation easements and an appreciation for the long-term obligations facing land trusts.
Questions about the Land Conservation Law Program can be directed to Mike Carlson, Executive Director.