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Missouri

Conservation Easement Legislation

After three years of hard work by Conservancy staff members, lobbyists, and partners, Missouri has a modern conservation easement statute. The Missouri General Assembly passed the Private Landowner Protection Act (SB119 and HB597 – later incorporated into HB89), which was signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon on July 8th, 2011.

This statute clarifies uncertainties in previous laws and brings Missouri into alignment with conservation easement legislation already established in most other states. The new law provides another tool to help private landowners achieve intended goals for their property. The Private Landowner Legislation Act is a win-win for people and conservation - private landowner rights are strengthened, and Missouri lands and waters will be better conserved for future generations!

What Are Conservation Easements?

Conservation easements are permanent, voluntary agreements between a landowner and a land trust or government entity. Easements protect specified conservation or historical features, while keeping the property in private ownership. Most easements allow for continued farming, ranching, forestry, and residential use.

How Do Landowners Benefit?

Landowners often receive significant tax benefits when donating an easement to a land trust. In some cases, easements have allowed farms to stay in the same family by reducing estate taxes. Additionally, landowners are able to meet the conservation goals for their land.

How Does the Public Benefit?
Conservation easements are cooperative conservation at its best. Important wildlife habitat and scenic views are protected, and at the same time the property continues to be economically productive.

Why Was the Private Landowner Protection Act Needed?
The existing conservation easement law, passed in 1971, provided only a very general legal base for implementing easements. The new Act provides a clearer legal framework, allowing landowners and land trusts to proceed with greater clarity and certainty of the legal backdrop as easements are negotiated.

Have Other States Adopted Similar Laws?
Every state but North Dakota has adopted a conservation easement law. Approximately half of the states have adopted laws very similar to the Private Landowner Protection Act, including Arkansas, Kansas, and Kentucky.

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