Property Rights Foundation of America®

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation to PRFA!

Conservation Easements - New York

New information added on August 11, 2012

Email Us

Conservation Easements -
A Short
Explanation of Terms

By Carol W. LaGrasse (July 2002)

"New York's Top Court Upholds Town's Right to Impose Conservation Easement"
- By Carol W. LaGrasse, PRFA, January 2005
Paul and Janet Smith lost their challenge in the New York State Court of Appeals to the conservation easement imposed by the Town of Mendon. But the scathing dissents in the 4-3 decision reasoned that the imposition was arbitrary and capricious, and that it was an unconstitutional "taking."

"Conservation Easements — The Hidden Inevitable Truths"
- OpEd by Clarice Ryan, Big Fork, Montana, July 4, 2004
Down-to-earth reflections on the perpetuity of conservation easements.

"Land Trust Bonanza in 'Faith Based Initiative' Blocked Again in Congress"
- PRFA, September 2003
The House Ways and Means Committee approved HR 7, Pres. Bush's Faith Based Initiative, but
struck out a land acquisition/conservation easement provision for a capitol gains break that would
benefit the land trusts to the tune of a billion dollars.

"Senate Drops Stealth Measure for Capital Gains Tax Relief"
— By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, June 24, 2002)
A capital gains tax credit of 25 percent was to favor landowners who sell land or conservation easements to land trusts or government. This "conservation" provision was hidden in Bush's "Faith-based Initiative."

Asst. Sec. of U.S. Dept. of Interior responds to LaGrasse
(DOI Letter, June 18, 2002)
Commenting specifically on LaGrasse's March 10, 2002 letter to DOI, Lynn Scarlet, Asst. Secretary, Policy, Management and Budget, responded, "With respect to your recommendation that endangered, threatened and rare species restoration should be contracted out, the President's Management Agenda does call for a greater focus on competitive sourcing...We share your desire for transparency and a wide range of partnerships for conservation."

"Congress Holds Stacked Hearing on Conservation Tax Credits"
- By Carol W. LaGrasse
(PRFA, May 4, 2002)
Fifty percent capital gains tax break would shift title to private land and conservation easements to land trusts and government. Land trusts, members of Congress, and big industry testify exclusively. However, articles give visibility to property rights activists' objections to Administration proposal.

See Also
See Also

Conservation Easements - NationalLand Trusts

Essentail Books & Publications
Essential Books
& Publications

"Uniform Conservation
Easement Act"

Drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law
(complete text of model law)

Now in its third reprint: For a copy of the complete text of "Conservation Easements," explaining why they are a "wolf in sheep's clothing":
Send $3.00 (incl. p&h) to PRFA for Positions on Property, Vol. 5, No. 1 (July 2000). Includes "Informed Consent."
N.Y. State residents please add 7% sales tax.

Additional Helpful Organizations
Additional Helpful

Additional Resources
Additional Resources

Testimony to National Parks Subcommittee
Hearing on the National Historic Register, April 21, 2005
By Peter F. Blackman
The National Register is supposed to be elective and an honor. The National Park Service literature trumpets time and again that you can do anything you wish with your house without penalty. The "National Park Service and others will use the National Register as a bludgeon against the property owner and trample his property rights, if they can."

"Supplemental Statement to Testimony"
Subcommittee on National Parks
Hearing on the National Historic Register, April 21, 2005
By Peter F. Blackman
Owner of house in the Historic Green Springs District located in Louisa County, Virginia, cannot repair his unexceptional, decrepit house because of National Park Service's purported conservation easement on his house. The dispute is in litigation.

"The Cost of Open Space"
-By Pat Taylor, Realtor Magazine Online, October, 2004
Efforts to conserve land raise property rights, affordability and tax concerns into the future with hands tied, under new scrutiny, know conservation easement value.

Michigan Model Conservation Easement
(March 2003)
This model document, which was provided by Rachel Thomas as a form used by the State of Michigan, contains typical clauses demonstrating the danger of conservation easements.


A Review of the Law of Easements
Continuing education course available, document covers fundamentals of easement law and more. Concepts discussed enable an understanding of many principles of easement law in this country.
By Schroeder Law Offices, P.C.
Serving Oregon, Washington, Idaho & Nevada since 1991

New York Blue Line Council


In-Depth Information

  • "Conservation Easements: Letter to a Wisconsin Property Owner"
    - By Carol W. LaGrasse, Property Rights Foundation of America, Inc., July 31, 2012
    In response to a letter from a Wisconsin property owner about the State of Wisconsin's announced plan to acquire conservation easements on 67,346 forest acres to become the Brule-St. Croix Legacy Forest, from Lyme St. Croix Forest Company, this letter gives some broad outlines of areas where the conservation easement acquisition should be given critical scrutiny, and how to obtain useful information.
  • Robert J. Smith"Congressional Designs on Your Property Rights" - By Robert J. Smith, Senior Fellow for Environmental Policy, National Center for Public Policy Research; Adjunct Senior Environmental Scholar, Competitive Enterprise Institute; & President, Center for Private Conservation, Washington, D.C.; Presented at Twelfth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, Albany, N.Y., October 18, 2008)
    The Bush Administration appointed major corporate and land trust figures such as John Turner, Henry Paulson, Gail Norton and Lynn Scarlet, who were enemies of private property ownership and private property rights, instead emphasizing "partnerships" and conservation easements. The Congress is designating nonstop Wilderness Areas, National Parks, National Battlefields, National Monuments, National Heritage Areas, National Scenic Trails, and Wild and Scenic Rivers. However, Rep. Rob Bishop and Rep. Paul Broun are bright lights for private property rights.
  • James E. Morgan"Conservation Easements and TDR's: Fifth Amendment Takings through Zoning" - By James E. Morgan, Esq., Principal, Galvin and Morgan, Counselors at Law, Delmar, N.Y.; Twelfth Annual National Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, Albany, N.Y., October 18, 2008)
    Transferable development rights, or TDR's, are recognized as a way of compensating property owners when the government takes property rights. But the state valued the TDR's in the Long Island Pine Barrens at a fraction of the fair value, rather than take the property by eminent domain, which would have given the property owners more rights. We are going back to a day when property owners are becoming like feudal serfs rather than property owners. Be prepared to fight for the long-term.
  • "Conservation Easements in Perpetuity are for a Long, Long Time" - By Clarice Ryan, Big Fork, Montana - Op Ed, February 21, 2008
    The perpetuity of conservation easements locks in the vision that a property owner has for his land to narrow decisions that were made in the past. Conservation easements disguised as "saving" the environment are placing private land under government control. The "let it burn" policies and the tax burdens to the diminishing property owners are having a profound impact on rural communities faced with Open Space protection. Buyers become scarce for conservation easement land, and tax liens and litigation to try to terminate the covenant lie ahead.
  • Carol W. LaGrasse"New York Property Rights Directions"-Speech by Carol W. LaGrasse, Cato Institute Conference-"Property Rights on the March: Where from Here," December 1, 2006, Washington, D.C.
    An overview of where property rights stand in New York, what the directions are, and where the work for our cause has been effective: focusing on the battle to keep land in private hands, holding off extreme land-use regulation, the issue of conservation easements, regional preservationist land-use battles, ubiquitous zoning conflicts; and eminent domain.
  • "Adirondack Agency Puts Final Stranglehold on 18,896 Acres"
    - By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, January 2005)
    The Adirondack Park Agency's September 2004 permit for a final division of the Long Pond property in St. Lawrence County, N.Y., tightened the noose on the already desiccated future of a tract that was once the site, in 1972, of the "Horizon" development proposal, which environmentalists had then exploited to rush the APA act into law.
  • "Conservation Easements-Perpetual Problems" - By Julia D. Mahoney, Ph.D., Professor, University of Virginia School of Law, Speech to the Seventh Annual NY Conference on Private Property Rights (PRFA, October 18, 2003)
    Conservation servitudes have been used to protect millions of acres of lands. Is it feasible or desirable to bind future generations? Conservation easements are designed "to prevent the reunification of the interest to the property owner."

Julia D. Mahoney, Ph.D.

Julia D. Mahoney, Ph.D.
  • "Town-Imposed Conservation Easement is an 'Exaction' but not a 'Taking' " — By Carol W. LaGrasse (PRFA, January 2003)
    Justice Robert J. Lunn of Monroe County Supreme Court ruled on January 16, 2002 that a "Conservation Restriction" to be filed like a deed, imposed by the Town of Mendon on property of Paul Smith was a "negative easement" and an "exaction," but did not grant compensation for an unconstitutional taking. Attorney James E. Morgan announced that Smith will appeal.
  • "Conservation Easements" - By Richard E. Hitchcock
    (PRFA, August 2002)
    A short, non-technical explanation of the nature of conservation easements and recent laws, including the Uniform Conservation Easement Act, that modify traditional easement law.
  • "Conservation Easements-A Second Look"-By Carol W. LaGrasse, Speech to the Boone and Crockett Club Annual Meeting, Hilton Rye Town, Rye Brook, N.Y., November 30, 2001 (PRFA, Dec. 2001)
    This speech to the Boone and Crockett Club, a nationwide hunting and conservation association founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, addresses why conservation easements are hostile to hunting and ranching, as well as touching on the common dangers to farming and timber production.
  • A Trio of Articles on Wildlands and Conservation Easements
    • "Pew took a public misstep" - by Carol W. LaGrasse, "President's Corner," Agri-News, May 25, 2001
      A refutation of the denials by Pew Charitable Trust of its connection to the radical Wildlands Project and of the connection of conservation easements to The Wildlands Project.
    • "Innuendo and misstatement..." - Letter to the editor by the Pew Charitable Trusts' Director of Environmental Programs, Joshua Reichert, which was published in Agri-News, May 11, 2001.
      Attacks the reprint of the John Elvin article asserting the connection between wildlands and conservation easements.
    • "Wildlands and Conservation Easements-The Connection Between 'Em"
      A brief summary of a reprinted version in Agri-News, April 13, 2001, of an article by columnist John Elvin in Insight magazine.
  • "Horse Tale"—By Kit Shy (Reprinted by permission, 2001)
    The rancher's story, "Hoss Tale," by surveyor Kit Shy of Westcliffe, Colorado, uses allegory to show how the bundle of rights attached to private property will be desiccated under conservation easements. You don't know whether to laugh or cry.
  • "A Critical Look at Conservation Easements" - By Carol W. LaGrasse (Speech to Tompkins County Farm Bureau, Dryden Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall, Dryden, N.Y., October 26, 2000)
    Benefits for farmers that are attributed to conservation easements are inaccurate, exaggerated and inequitable. The results of conservation easements are the loss of equity and the rights to use the land.
  • Informed Consent
    PRFA's "Informed Consent" checklist is designed to help the private property owner and his legal counsel to level the playing field in dealing with the slick experts who negotiate for the land trusts.
  • "Forest Land Easements—Freezing the Future" - William R. Sayre, Chairman, Forest Policy Task Force, Associated Industries of Vermont, Montpelier, Vt., from Proceedings of the Fourth Annual New York Conference on Private Property Rights (1999)
 William R. Sayre

Back to:
PRFA Home Page

© 2014 Property Rights Foundation of America ®
All rights reserved. This material may not be broadcast, published, rewritten or redistributed without written permission.