Georgia Governor Deal freezes state acquisition of conservation easements

By Kevin McGorty, TTLC Director

On November 10, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal submitted a letter to the Georgia State Properties Commission instructing all state agencies and entities within state government to immediately hold all pending requests for action on conservation easements. The Governor’s directive relates to easements that the State would hold (either by Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Georgia Forestry Commission, or Georgia Soil and Water Conservation Commission).

It is believed that the Governor is displeased with state agencies holding easements that could potentially be used to block highway construction planned by other state agencies. In his letter the governor stated, “…it has come to my attention that the current system that allows for real property to be placed in these public entities is open to abuse. This abuse could occur as a result of the underlying law’s lack of clarity and inconsistency in how the program is undertaken.”

The action by the governor does not affect transactions with non-profit land trusts such as Tall Timbers. In addition, the Georgia Conservation Tax Credit Program is unaffected by the governor’s action. Landowners donating conservation easements in 2011 will be eligible for State Tax Credit incentives. Tall Timbers is closing on a number of conservation easements in Georgia this year.

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