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Legislature looks at conservation easements

by Carol Dunn

DENVER- A bill just introduced into the Colorado legislature would require conservation easement appraisals to be filed with the Colorado Division of Real Estate and certification for groups which buy and hold conservation easements. 

    Conservation easements are created when landowners sell or donate the development rights for their land. Conservation easements have been of interest to Huerfano County landowners, because about three-quarters of the County has already been subdivided.

    House Bill 1353 specifies that appraisals will be reviewed by the Division of Real Estate, which will hold appraisers accountable for their conservation easement work.  A state certification program would be developed to establish minimum qualifications for groups which hold easements, and landowners will only qualify for Colorado tax credit if they work with certified groups.  The certification would scrutinize the way groups approve easements, the way they are governed and their financial strength. Another feature of the bill would be the creation of the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission, which will advise the Division of Real Estate.