In an alarming trend over the last few years, large swaths of farms, forests and wildlands permanently protected for the benefit of the public have been targeted for the siting of energy infrastructure projects. As climate and energy bills move through Congress, the push for rapid development of low carbon energy and new transmission lines should not, as an unintended consequence, undo years of work and public and private investment in conservation.
Global climate change is both a challenge and an opportunity for the land conservation community. Since natural landscapes sequester carbon dioxide, land trusts can be part of the solution. Meanwhile, new funding sources generated by climate legislation may help land trusts adapt to the challenge of a changing landscape.
Conservation easement enabling statutes serve as the internal structural frame upon which thousands of easements have been granted. As the land conservation movement has matured in recent years, there has been a corresponding interest in amending enabling statutes. This report is a resource for those in the land conservation field, including land trust staff, government agencies that hold easements, attorneys and elected officials. In certain cases, these individuals might wish to amend their state statute to plug a gap or otherwise strengthen it. In other cases, they might be playing defense, fending off a bill that would be deleterious to sound easement practices. Finally, some might simply be curious as to how their state statute compares to others.