Epidemic Of Conservation Easements

from Liberty Matters


Conservation easements are rapidly becoming a major method of land control across the nation. The Gallatin County Montana commissioners recently approved spending $350,000 in bond money to buy a conservation easement on 1,500 acres of the Wally Brown farm.

The deal turns on the availability of federal grant money to complete the $1.4 million transaction. A Kendall County, Texas man has placed his entire 120 acres in a conservation easement to protect it from development.

And Art Wilson, a neighbor and board member of the Cibolo Conservancy, hopes to educate landowners in neighboring counties of Comal, Bexar, and Guadalupe Counties to do the same. The Texas Legislature is considering a bill to create the Texas Legacy Council to encourage landowners to sell their development rights to non-governmental organizations.

In Nevada, a Douglas County commissioner has decided to enlist the help of Interior Secretary Norton to preserve working ranches in the Carson Valley. Jacques Etchegyhen, who is also Nevada director of the American Land Conservancy, has had his plans rebuffed over the last five years and now wants to persuade Sec. Norton to supply funding for the easements through a land act. He reasons, that it is the logical method to preserve private land in a state that is already 87% federally owned.

Colorado lawmakers last week approved legislation to include water rights in conservation easement plans. H.B. 1008 will extend state income tax credits to the value of any water rights included in the easements.

The California Chapter of the American Farmland Trust is working to preserve farmland by buying the development rights. The Trust claims 50,000 acres of farmland are lost to development each year and are paying landowners to relinquish their rights to sell to the highest bidder.

The California Farmland Conservancy Program has “preserved” 21,000 acres in the state since its inception in 1996. Conservation easements create perpetual contracts on private property that can be transferred to a government entity which becomes the managing partner in that land.

For more information on the dangerous impact of conservation easements, go to PropertyRights.org.


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