Hicks v. Dowd, Conservation Easements, and the Charitable Trust Doctrine: Setting the Record Straight

Wyoming Law Review, Vol. 10, p. 73, 2010

42 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2010  

Nancy A. McLaughlin

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

W. William Weeks

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: 2010

Abstract

This is the fourth in an exchange of articles published by the Wyoming Law Review discussing the application of charitable trust principles to conservation easements conveyed as charitable gifts. In 2002, Johnson County, Wyoming, attempted to terminate a perpetual conservation easement that had been conveyed to the County as a tax-deductible charitable gift. The County’s actions were challenged, first in a suit brought by a resident of the County, Hicks v. Dowd, and then in a suit brought by the Wyoming Attorney General, Salzburg v. Dowd. This article supports the position taken by the Wyoming Attorney General – that conservation easements conveyed as charitable gifts for the purpose of protecting the conservation values of the land they encumber in perpetuity constitute restricted charitable gifts or charitable trusts and, thus, such easements cannot be terminated without court approval obtained in a cy pres or similar equitable proceeding. For readers who do not have easy access to court documents in Wyoming, this article includes the relevant portion of the Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Wyoming Attorney General in Salzburg v. Dowd as Appendix A.

Keywords: conservation easement, cypres, attorney general, Hicks v. Dowd, Salzburg v. Dowd, charitable gift, charitable trust, perpetuity, conservation easement enforcement, conservation easement termination, conservation easement amendment

JEL Classification: K11, K32, L30, L31, Q15, Q24, R14

Suggested Citation

McLaughlin, Nancy A. and Weeks, W. William, Hicks v. Dowd, Conservation Easements, and the Charitable Trust Doctrine: Setting the Record Straight (2010). Wyoming Law Review, Vol. 10, p. 73, 2010 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1542648

Nancy A. McLaughlin (Contact Author)

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

332 South 1400 East, Rm 101
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-581-5944 (Phone)
801-581-6897 (Fax)

W. William Weeks

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States

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