Easements cover more ground than purchases | VailDaily.com

Easements cover more ground than purchases

Don Rogers

A friend among the open space advocates – yes, somehow we still have a couple of those – with math skills shared some thoughts recently.He was comparing the notion of buying land outright vs. preserving open space through conservation easements. That is, buying just the development rights.”Bair Ranch in Eagle County represented 1.69 percent of the private lands (3,306 acres in Eagle County). The Eagle County portion represented $605 per acre. Eaton in comparison is a little less than .04 percent at $83,333 per acre (county share).”At this rate, there remains 191,771 acres of private land. Probably half that has not been approved for development yet. … That’s 95,885 acres not yet approved for development.”Assuming the bonding of $40 million and funds left over from bonding of $24 million, we have $64 million to spend. At the Bair Ranch rate, we can protect 105,800 acres (or MORE than what is available). At the Eaton Ranch rate, we can protect 768 acres, or 0.8 percent of what is available! 100 percent vs LESS than 1 percent. AMAZING! …”It is certainly a strong case for conservation easements vs. fee purchase. PLUS, you gotta figure that this is BEST case scenario, as fewer funds will be available the more fee lands the county buys due to management costs! Not to mention fewer partners are available for fee purchases!”Anyhow, that’s it. Pretty amazing comparison, it seems to me. Even if you look at it as all the private land in Eagle County at the Bair rate vs the Eaton Ranch rate you would be over a 100 to 1 ratio.”Of course, not everyone with qualifying land will be willing to just sell the development rights. But this is an eye-opener, and a caution to be very careful about what should be bought outright, and what should not. Vail, Colorado

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