Who Should Protect the Forest?: Conservation Easements in the Forest Legacy Program

33 Public Land and Resources Law Review 2012, Forthcoming

SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-003

47 Pages Posted: 9 Jul 2012 Last revised: 27 Sep 2012

Jessica Owley

University at Buffalo Law School

Stephen J. Tulowiecki

SUNY Buffalo Law School

Date Written: September 26, 2012

Abstract

Increasingly, governments are turning to nongovernemental actors to carry out environmental protection goals. This has been particularly prevalent in the realm of land conservation. Government programs often draw upon the power of nonprofit conservation organizations known as land trusts to monitor, manage, and enforce land protection goals. Reliance on land trusts has created both philosophical and practical conundrums. These concerns also stem in part from the chief land protection tool used by land trusts: conservation easements. This article examines these concerns by a close look at the role of land trusts and conservation easements in the Forest Legacy Program.

Administered by the U.S. Forest Service, the Forest Legacy Program seeks to slow conversion of private forestlands to nonforest uses. Conservation easements form a key element of the Program, but their use is complicated. In creating the Program, Congress seemed to both want to encourage the involvement of land trusts and to curb their reach. The Program draws upon the power of private organizations, and increasingly calls upon land trusts to carry out the duty of protecting forestlands and yet stops short of enabling these organizations to receive Program funds or to enforce conservation easements purchased with Program funds. Thus, in the FLP, Congress inches toward privatization of forestland conservation, but holds back. This stance is bewildering. If Congress was concerned with the involvement of land trusts in forestland conservation, it seems to give them too much power. If Congress wanted to encourage greater land trust involvement, it seems to stop too short.

Keywords: forest legacy program, conservation easements, land trusts, forest policy, land conservation

Suggested Citation

Owley, Jessica and Tulowiecki, Stephen J., Who Should Protect the Forest?: Conservation Easements in the Forest Legacy Program (September 26, 2012). 33 Public Land and Resources Law Review 2012, Forthcoming; SUNY Buffalo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-003. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2102135

Jessica Owley (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

School of Law
528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States
716-645-8182 (Phone)
716-645-2064 (Fax)

Stephen J. Tulowiecki

SUNY Buffalo Law School ( email )

12 Capen Hall
Buffalo, NY 14222
United States

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