The Easement Bubble: Will Successor Landholders Bankrupt Conservation?
Conservation easements, particularly those granted in perpetuity, pose an unknown long-term risk to land trusts and conservation organization in terms of monitoring and enforcement costs, especially as easements age and the land eventually transfers from original to successor owners. We analyzed 7 years of monitoring data from all easements held by The Nature Conservancy and found that, indeed, as easements change hands and/or are sub-divided they are much more likely to be in violation of their terms than their counterparts that remain under original ownership. These findings may have serious implications for how, when and whether we should continue to buy easements and how we will pay for increasing costs of enforcing an aging portfolio.
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