Senator Siddoway has asked a series of questions about land conservation easements this morning. He said he opposes them because they are near sighted. The idea of preserving agricultural land as a farm or as wildlife habitat into perpetuity is near sighted. From the questions the good Senator asked, he had a ways to go to understand how easements work.
Can the land change hands? Yes.
Who makes sure it is preserved as the easement promises? A land trust.
Does that hurt the tax base of the county and local area? No since the land remains agricultural and may allow some forms of development on some small parts of the land, it may increase the taxable value. Even more important, the preservation of the land may increase the value of neighboring land which enjoys the wildlife, scenery and benefit of not being next to yet another house, road or subdivision.
We had before us a Supplemental Appropriations bill for an easement to preserve in perpetuity the Breckenridge Ranch along the Teton river. Supplementals are bills that allow for spending for a previous fiscal year. They allow new money to be spent and unexpected costs to be covered.
Senator Siddoway voted no, even Senator Mortimer who is a developer made the motion and voted yes. I think the fear of conservation is fading in the face of endless darkened subdivisions. Democrat and Republican can feel love for an open field, the sight of elk grazing, eagles in the tress, the sound of cranes calling. As Idahoans we have a sense of the future, what we do and don't want it to be. It is not near sighted, it is wise. I like seeing this in my colleagues. It gives me hope.