Archive for Friday, March 21, 2014

Kansas Senate committee approves bill to limit conservation easements

March 21, 2014


— A bill that would limit conservation easements, which have been used to preserve lands in the Flint Hills and elsewhere, was approved by a Senate committee Friday.

Senate Bill 323 is being sought by a handful of landowners and a tea party group, but is opposed by many other landowners, the Governor's Military Council, and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Under a conservation easement, owners donate land with restrictions in place that would prohibit development on the land for perpetuity.

Conservation groups have used the easements to preserve land in its natural state.

But some say the easements, which last forever, limit economic development and future opportunities and negatively impact those who own land abutting the easements.

The bill would limit the duration of a conservation easement so that it ends with the death of the grantor.

"This bill deals with taking away the perpetuity," said state Sen. Dennis Pyle, R-Hiawatha. "When you put perpetuity in there, you limit the use of that land for the future."

But state Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, said the use of conservation easements is an important tool that protects Kansas military bases from federal base closure considerations.

Military bases in Kansas have used a program to acquire permanent conservation easements to prevent encroachment on their facilities.

"Passage of SB 323 puts our military installations needlessly at risk by eliminating the military's best option for sustaining the capabilities of our nation's installations through mutually beneficial partnerships with its neighboring landowners," John Armbrust, executive director of the Governor's Military Council, said in earlier testimony.

The Senate Natural Resources Committee approved the measure on a voice vote.

Two Democrats, Hawk and state Sen. Marci Francisco, of Lawrence, and two Republicans, sens. Carolyn McGinn, of Sedgwick, and Dan Kerschen, of Golden Plain, opposed the bill.


Clark Coan 4 years, 1 month ago

Heck, even the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Livestock Assn. support conservation easements in the Flint Hills. The latter even created Ranchland Trust of Kansas to have conserve tallgrass prairie in the Flint Hills. The IRS requires that conservation easements be in perpetuity and this bill would end that and effective end land conservation in Kansas using conservation easements. Back to the Gilded Age of the 1870s!!!

Larry Sturm 4 years, 1 month ago

We need to get Brownback and the republican legislature out of office the damage they are doing to the state of Kansas will be felt for many many years to come, long past my life time and maybe even my grand kids.

Brad Greenwood 4 years ago

It's just one aspect of the Republicans' un-holy trinity targeted by the Ks legislature and the guv... Environment, Education and Health Care. As long as it's good for "Koch" business, these 3 are definitely expendable as viewed by our powers that be. We can only hope that the rest of the state will wake up and try and vote these clowns out before the damage they do is irreparable.

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