Cloudy
44°
Cloudy
Hi 54° | Lo 45°

Letter: Join the Debate Over Conservation Easements

Join the Conservation Debate

To the Editor:

There will be no legislative action taken on conservation easements in Vermont this session. Instead, land conservation groups, their supporters, partners and landowners will continue to examine how best to ensure the integrity of easements over time. That’s good news. The Vermont Land Trust had been studying potential revisions to the original bill (S.119) but has announced that it is ending that work and will not recommend revisions.

The Upper Valley Land Trust had publicly expressed serious reservations about some aspects of S.119 and met with VLT president Gil Livingston as he considered options. We believe that VLT’s decision is responsible and will ultimately lead to stronger land conservation in Vermont. Comments from the public — broad and deep — have indicated the profound importance of land conservation to Vermonters. The mission of the Upper Valley Land Trust, like that of the Vermont Land Trust, The Nature Conservancy and other local and regional conservancies, is valued as a critical part of the state’s identity and future.

People who have been following this legislation will have observed that UVLT and VLT did not agree on some of the merits and likely impacts of the original bill. This disagreement does not lessen, in any way, our respect for the accomplishments of VLT. We are confident that in the months ahead our two organizations, together with colleagues throughout the state, will satisfactorily address the needs and questions that have been expressed. Public participation in the discussion about easement permanence has been very important and will continue to be.

Now those interested in this issue have the opportunity to learn about all of the possible options based on applicable federal and state law, to consider potential models provided by other states and to take part in this serious conversation about expectations of easement permanence. Please keep sharing your ideas and concerns as UVLT and its partners and friends engage in an ongoing, open dialogue about how best to see that land conservation gifts and investments are protected by state law.

Jeanie McIntyre

President, Upper Valley Land Trust

Hanover