How popular are conservation easements?
The largest exchange of wealth in world history is occurring as the aging make final decisions about their legacy. But, with the possible return of the death tax and the changing future of farming in California, which road should be taken? Ag Alert® delves more deeply into this important and timely topic:
- Part 1: Legacy Lost
- Part 2: Redefining tradition
- Part 3: Branching Out
- Part 4: A living legacy
As communities across America grapple with urban sprawl, which eats up 2 million acres of land each year, thousands of farm acres are being protected by land trusts through conservation easements. The Land Trust Alliance's 2003 National Land Trust Census reports that more than 800,000 acres are being added every year to private land conservation agreements.
The census also reports the following:
- A record 5 million acres were protected through voluntary land conservation agreements, more than triple the amount of 1.4 million acres protected just five years prior.
- Local and regional land trusts protected 9,361,600 acres of natural areas, an area four times the size of Yellowstone National Park. This is double the 4.7 million acres protected as of 1998.
- Although the census tallies only data from local and regional land trusts, national land trusts have protected an additional 25 million acres.
- California, Maine and Colorado led the nation in the amount of acreage protected by local and regional land trusts.
- California leads the nation in numbers of land trusts with 173. Massachusetts, the birthplace of land trusts, is second with 154 nonprofit land conservation organizations, followed by Connecticut with 125.
- Acreage protected by conservation easements has increased 266 percent since 1998--from 1,385,000 to 5,067,929 in 2003.