Cost-Effective Strategies for Land Trusts

A Summary

Land trusts operate much like businesses. Just as businesses provide goods and services, land trusts provide environmental amenities such as wildlife habitat and scenic views. And like businesses, land trusts must keep their costs in check.

This paper by Dominic P. Parker helps land trusts better understand their costs. It will help them decide whether to purchase land in fee simple or to seek partial ownership through conservation easements, a decision that will differ depending on characteristics of the land to be preserved and the preservation goals. The paper also offers guidance on which attributes of preserved land make stewarding conservation easements more expensive. This information can help land trusts structure easements in ways that will save them money.

"Cost-Effective Strategies for Conserving Private Land" is also directed toward policy makers such as county commissioners or state legislators whose actions directly affect the choices of instruments available to land trusts. This paper explains why land trusts will be more attractive neighbors if they have greater flexibility in choosing their means of preservation.

Dominic P. Parker has been a PERC research associate since March 2001. He received his M.S. in applied economics from Montana State University, where he studied the factors that influence state fish and wildlife agency budgets. Parker has worked as a consultant for the accounting firm KPMG in Portland, Oregon, and has authored several publications analyzing the financial state of Oregon's high-technology industry. While at PERC, he has been researching the costs of preserving and enhancing environmental amenities with conservation easements. This paper is part of that project.

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Dominic Parker is a Senior Research Fellow at PERC and is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural and Applied Economics at University of Wisconsin-Madison where he teaches courses in natural resource economics. His research examines how legal systems and government policies affect natural resource use, environmental outcomes, and economic...
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