Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Easing back into Easements

Back to blogging after a busy weekend here at Nature Noted world headquarters. We're going through that fine process called buying another house and putting ours up for sale, which for those of you who've been through it, know is a bit time consuming.
That said, back into the easement wars!
First, great catch by Jon at The Uneasy Chair for finding a series of papers on land trusts and easement use. The papers are at PERC.ORG which specializes in studying free market environmentalism. Senior fellow Dominic "Nick" Parker published this paper called "Maintaining Trust" that studied land trusts, particularly their funding mechanisms, such as conservation easements. Parker is cautionary on the use of tax deductions for easements. One interesting caveat he found was the IRS insistence on perpetual easements, and the loss of flexibility that causes the trust through time. If you haven't already, check out Parker's article and his more indepth paper on the same topic . I've e-mailed Mr. Parker to get his reaction to the deduction question, and will post any response.
Jon and Gary at Crumb Trail have been talking about alternative funding for trusts beyond tax deductions, such as those suggested in Mr. Parker's paper.
Legislators in South Dakota are working on a way to add flexibility to those easements. A proposal being considered now would allow buyers and sellers to set varying lengths of easements, short, medium or long term. That could be a solution.
Other articles of note....
The San Francisco Chronicle has a good primer on the use of easements in California.
But from New York State, a cautionary tale about dotting all the i's and crossing the t's. Seems when New York State bought the easements for public access to 4,500 acres of land in the Adirondacks, it didn't settle the question of who owns a 4/10ths of a mile section of road through a camp for the children of the rich and famous. Without the access, the state property is cut off.
Finally, I'm again hearing rumblings that a strategy has been settled upon to fight the deduction war, but until I get further confirmation, I'll just leave it at that tantalizing tidbit. (I'm starting to feel like "Page Six" here.)


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