The Case for Increased Oversight of Land Trusts

Sághalie Latlah

Sághalie Latlah

Sághalie Latlah is a pro-trade neoliberal technocrat and unapologetic globalist. Sooner or later, he will enrage you.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    The issue of conservation easements is one I have a fair amount of experience with. I live nextdoor to one, which is a truly historic and natural property, part of a watershed and IMO it fits the intent of the law to the letter. As an archaeologist I was also involved with doing some assessments for properties that were considering national register designations but also looking at conservation easements as a secondary path to securing the property. In general, I think land trusts are awesome and I’d like to see a lot more of them, especially when they preserve historical structures, potential archaeological sites, etc.

    The question for me is whether the bad outweighs the good here and whether additional oversight will push well-intentioned folks away from the process and ultimately not get the protections for sites that truly deserve them. If I am being honest, because I don’t have a lot of trust that the oversight won’t become overly burdensome and bogged down by bureaucracy, I would probably err on the side of allowing the golf courses to abuse the system in order to ensure the historic property is preserved. Obviously I am very biased on this topic but when a historic site is lost to development, it’s gone. Natural spaces can be restored by historical and archaeological context cannot can not be recreated.Report

    • Avatar Philip H in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      While it is true historical and archaeological context can’t be recreated, they can be interpreted and preserved in many ways other then just land trusts and conservation easements. Back in the day I was a lead biologist for this project (http://www.heidirosewatters.com/stewardship/2015/3/24/on-the-river-again-at-codiga-park-another-former-farm) where the Seattle District Corp of Engineers turned an old abandoned dairy farm property into a salmon habitat restoration site and park. In the pictures in the link you will notice a barn shaped pavilion, which was part of our required historic preservation activity, and which also included extensive archaeological site documentation prior to digging, as well as installation of historic interpretive sinage. All done to comply with NHPA. and All keeping context while allowing another environmental use to occur at the site.

      My point being that there are many ways to keep history intact and alive.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Philip H says:

        If the archaeology is done prior to a project, I’m good with it. And I certainly understand renovating historic buildings. I hunt on a farm that has very important ties to early Kentucky history and what will probably be my dissertation project someday. There is a house there that was built around 1800 that is in rough shape, despite it still being an amazing structure. I worry a lot about it. If someone wanted to document, then gut the inside and make it liveable again, no complaints from me.

        What I worry most about with large pieces of property is the potential for future archaeology that may be lost. There’s a ranch down in Texas right now that has significant archaeological sites on it but the owner has decided to loot and destroy the entire thing. He’s one disturbed grave away from a NAGPRA violation but even if that never happens he is doing a very bad thing. If the previous owners had create a CE maybe this couldn’t have happened.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    First of all, good on the citizens of Georgia for taking advantage of the laws. That is why we have them. Second, various members of my family have done this, in the Mendocino area of California, later donating the parcel to the Sierra Club, an institution that that branch of my family has been deeply involved with for generations, often at the highest levels.

    I am a firm believer that laws, all laws, need to be as impartial as possible, and that people should use them for whatever reason they want to. This may lead to uses that you personally disapprove of. If so, then you need to change minds. Papering over a disagreement with shoddy law does nothing to reverse the underlying issue. If I own property, and I do, I am going to what I can to increase the value of that real estate, using any legal tool at my disposal. I do agree that gov’t documents should always be available unless a direct connection to national security can be made, so in that sense, Massachusets is doing good. Other than that, the value of any property, real or personal, is set by an agreement between buyer and seller. Anything else is a false value. If we don’t like what someone values their own property at, maybe that is not the best factor to tax it on.

    Also, best practices are fine, when it isn’t your ox being gored. Often what appears to be “best” is really a power grab. The United States is known for its decentralized power structure, and this is something I greatly appreciate about this country.Report

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