Rick Buchanan, from the Fauquier Free Citizen has a series of articles out regarding Conservation Easements that are definitely worth a read. Here’s an excerpt from his introduction:
The Real Costs of Conservation Easements
By Rick Buchanan
Taxpayers are paying vast sums of money for the ability of some landowners to voluntarily give property rights to another entity. This begs the question “Why am I paying for someone else’s charity”? After reading the following discussion of conservation easements, you should be asking your legislative representatives their reasoning behind this decision, since they have made it for you. If they think this is such a great use of your money, there should be good reasons for their decision. But before you call, perhaps some background information germane to the discussion would be helpful.
As taxpayers, many things for which we are asked to pay, that originate from our trusted governmental representatives, are based in altruistic motives that sound “real good”. And, of course, we naturally assume our legislators are always looking out for our best interests. In fact if you take the opportunity to know your legislators you will find most really do go about their jobs earnestly trying to do what is right for all of us. Really!
However, in today’s world, the ship of state is not a slow moving luxury steamer. It is more like a speedboat in a regatta, skimming along the water barely touching the surface. It is easy to see why some of our best legislators end up steering off course. It is understandable that they may take a feel-good issue at face value and not look below the surface to analyze the long range effects of the policies they enact.
Since many of us are riding in a similar speedboat, barely glimpsing the waves of information flying by, I offer you a bit of research on one such wave: The tidal wave of billions of dollars spent each year on conservation easements that most of us know little about, though we might think we do.
This study is offered with only one request. If you care enough to know where these tax dollars are going, please do your own research. Not only am I suggesting you open the links provided in this series of articles but also go online where there are volumes of further information. I you have something to add, or see something you disagree with, please voice your opinion in the comment section given below. The money invested in conservation deserves conversation, so chime in.