Amending Perpetual Conservation Easements: A Case Study Of The Myrtle Grove Controversy

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Over the past quarter century there has been an explosive growth in the use of conservation easements as a land protection tool. A conservation easement is a deed transferred by the owner of the land encumbered by the easement to the holder of the easement (generally a government agency or a charitable conservation organization referred to as a “land trust”) that restricts the development and use of the land to achieve certain conservation goals, such as the preservation of open space, wildlife habitat, agricultural land, or an historic site. The vast majority of conservation easements are granted “in perpetuity” because government agencies and land trusts generally acquire only perpetual easements, and landowners donating easements are eligible for the various federal and state tax incentives only if the easements are perpetual.

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