Conservation Easements and Your Property Rights

Kaye Beach

Dec 28, 2010

Surfing the ‘Net’ tonight, this article caught my eye.

Conservation Easements (CEs)*:Read the fine print before you sign

The fact that it caught my eye is solely due to the fact that I have been doing some “green reading” trying to get a handle on the array of sustainability policies making their presence known in our cities across the state of Oklahoma.

Conservation Easements are a featured topic of a report originating from Edmond Oklahoma that I read and posted about here recently.

Green Infrastructure Initiative Report to Stakeholders

City of Edmond and Edmond Land Conservancy
Facilitated Meetings Summary

According to the Edmond  report the ” Top Priorities for the Green Infrastructure Initiative” are:

  • Conserve forest lands in Edmond through a combination of regulations and incentives.
  • Educate landowners and promote use of conservation easements through educational materials and ongoing public awareness efforts.
  • Preserve floodplain and watershed lands through acquisition of conservation easements or, when necessary, whole properties.

The PPJ Gazette posts this warning to landowners about “conservation easements”;

”A normal easement by a landowner usually grants a right to someone to do something on the landowner’s property; but a conservation easement gives away the landowner’s rights to do something on his or her own property.

Land trusts and environmental groups regularly use conservation easements to take control of private property.”

A basic Constitutional tenet of private property ownership in America is the landowner’s right to determine the use and disposition of his or her land.   This ownership gives the property owner the right to occupy, use, lease, sell, develop, and deny public access to his or her land.   Today, landowners can lose these rights simply by signing a ‘standard’ or ‘model’ conservation easement (CE) offered by ‘nonprofit-environmental-friendly’ land trusts, NGO environmental organizations, or government agencies unless the easement has been worded to protect the landowner’s rights.

According to the PPJ’s post, “Land trusts exist to remove private property from production”

As the article recommends, check the wording on these easements to make sure that your property rights as a landowner are protected.

The informative posting goes on to explain how this works and what purpose it serves.  Highly recommended reading for land owners and especially perspective land owners.  

Read more

Another great article about conservation easements;

Make an Informed Decision about Conservation Easements

Liberty Matters | Dan Byfield | December 2, 2010 -

If you’ve ever considered placing a conservation easement on your property, make sure you understand everything you need to know before you sign on the dotted line.

Conservation easements are not an easement in the traditional sense.  Rather, they are better thought of as servitudes, restrictive covenants, or negative restrictions that run in perpetuity with the land.  There are only two entities that can legally hold them – non-profit land trusts and government agencies, which in most instances ought to raise red flags immediately.

Even the trusted Natural Resource Conservation Service is offering them in perpetuity or for lesser term of years, but be sure to find out from the IRS how much of a deduction, if any, you can claim for terms lesser than perpetuity.  The primary purpose of conservation easements is to tie up private property forever and it wasn’t until recently that lesser terms came into play.

Proponents of conservation easements like to say they are “voluntary agreements.” That is true, but once signed, they are nothing of the sort.  But, everyone recognizes that it is strictly the right and choice of the individual landowner to place a conservation easement on their land.

To make an informed decision about conservation easements, landowners need all the facts.

Read More

Oklahoma Conservation Easement Enabling Statutes

From the Oklahoma Bar Association 2000;

Description of Conservation Easements

A conservation easement is a non-possessory interest in real property created through a voluntary agreement between a landowner and a qualified entity chosen by the landowner to “hold” or enforce the easement. The easement then imposes upon the parties and their successors use restrictions or affirmative obligations to protect some aspect of the property which has conservation or preservation value.

The Act permits the parties to agree upon the term of the easement.8 However, in order for the owner to receive federal tax benefits, the easement must be perpetual.9 Most conservation and historic preservation groups will accept only perpetual easements.10 For these reasons, conservation easements are typically perpetual.

Easement Incentive Cosponsors in the 111th Congress

An amazing 267 Representatives from all 50 states — including majorities of both parties — have signed on as co-sponsors of H.R. 1831!  Senate legislation, S. 812, now has 41 co-sponsors. Scroll down below to see if your Senators and Representatives have signed-on in the new congress.

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4 responses to “Conservation Easements and Your Property Rights

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention AxXiom for Liberty Conservation Easements and Your Property Rights -- Topsy.com

  2. Howard Houchen

    Interesting — Michelle Bachmann co-sponsored this bill as well as Ron Paul!

  3. Pingback: Conservation Easements and Your Property Rights | don't tread on cat

  4. Dianna Allison Sheik

    Please contact me asap I have major concern an property easement on the land that was purchase prior to Lake Eufaula went that belongs to my parents emmyloumustang@yahoo.com

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