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Know the West

Imperfect easement system still works

  Here in Wisconsin, I don’t see anything like the conservation easement abuses that Ray Ring describes as occurring in Montana (HCN, 5/30/05: Write-off on the Range). I wonder if Ray has captured anything approaching the typical land trust or conservation easement experience. Montana has been a true leader in the private-sector voluntary protection of working lands and natural habitats.

I sense that Ray was looking for sensation as opposed to balance. The alternative to a less-than-perfect land-protection movement is ranchettes and subdivisions as far as the eye can see.

I could be wrong about this; maybe global warming and a let-burn forest fire policy will protect the landscape from development in Montana. Unfortunately, it is too wet in Wisconsin for that. Around here, I guess we will just have to keep slugging away, protecting what we can from the bulldozer. I am glad Ray summarized the Land Trust Alliance’s program of reform. This will go a long ways toward curbing the limited amount of abuse that does occur.

Doug Booth
Driftless Area Land Conservancy
Dodgeville, Wisconsin