Perpetual Conservation Easements in the 21st Century: What Have We Learned and Where Should We Go from Here?

40 Pages Posted: 1 Mar 2014 Last revised: 19 Mar 2014

Nancy A. McLaughlin

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

The public is investing billions of dollars in conservation easements, which now protect an estimated 40 million acres throughout the United States. But all is not well. Uncertainties in the law and abusive practices threaten to undermine public confidence in and the effectiveness of conservation easements as a land protection tool. This short article is part of a series of articles published in the law review discussing conservation easements, with a focus on what we have learned thus far and where we should go from here. This article sets the stage by describing the dramatic growth in the use of conservation easements, the various laws that impact easement creation and administration, a timeline of important legal and policy developments, and the recent surprising lack of certainty and consensus regarding what it means to protect land “in perpetuity” or “forever” with a conservation easement. The article concludes by discussing how the perpetuity issue might be productively resolved.

Keywords: conservation easements, federal tax law, perpetuity, enabling statutes, attorney general

JEL Classification: H20, K11, K32, K34, L30, L31, Q10, Q20, Q24, Q28

Suggested Citation

McLaughlin, Nancy A., Perpetual Conservation Easements in the 21st Century: What Have We Learned and Where Should We Go from Here? (2013). Utah Law Review, Vol. 3, p. 687, 2013; University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 62. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2402727

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)

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