“Perpetuity is a long, long time.”

HB 1083 is the perennial anti-conservation easement bill, and was up for hearing in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee this morning.

Sponsored by Rep. Betty Olson, R-Prairie City, this year the bill calls for a limit on conservation easements to 99 years. Last year was 30 years, and it died then; it is not clear why 99 years would be better, as the majority of arguments against the bill are the same.

Rep. Olson brought an amendment to take out the limits on historical, architectural, archaeological, or cultural aspects of real property, which was certainly wise. These are resources that are rightly conserved permanently, as their value truly grows over time.

Rep. Olson, during her introduction of the bill, made note of just how long “permanent” really is. And yes, it is true – perpetual is forever. But that is how we leave our legacy, is it not? That is why we have national and state parks, because brilliant men and women saw to it to preserve, permanently, the most beautiful aspects of our country. If someone has their own private land, regardless of who might own it in the future, the person who has that land has the right to do what they wish with it, even if that is a permanent commitment to preserving that land.

Lots of opponent testimony, from everything from wetland preservation, environmental concerns, concerns about the loss of tax breaks, and the violation of basic private property rights. One of the most interesting opponent testimonies came from [name], who put his easement on his land to protect grassland for ranchers who raise grass-fed beef.

Unfortunately, the bill passed out of committee on an 8 to 5 vote. Get in touch with your House representative today, and tell them to vote NO on HB 1083.

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