Saturday, 25 May 2024

Senate Committee approves bill expanding use of conservation easements to preserve parkland

SACRAMENTO – The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water has voted 5-3 to approve Senate Bill 1431, legislation by Sen. Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) to enable the state Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to expand the use of conservation easements to protect state parklands.


SB 1431 seeks to clarify that DPR is allowed to acquire a conservation easement if DPR determines that it is necessary to protect a unit of the state park system from an incompatible use or to preserve and enhance the natural resource, cultural, or historic value of a state park unit.


The Wiggins bill would also enable DPR to make grants to a state or local government agency, or a nonprofit, to purchase and hold a conservation easement with funds that have been appropriated to the department for land acquisitions. Grant recipients would be required to monitor and enforce the easement and agree to restrict the use of the land in perpetuity.


“As the population of our state continues to grow, and urban growth expands into previously undeveloped areas, additional pressures are being placed on the resources of the State Parks and Recreation system,” Wiggins said.


“DPR is authorized to purchase land for the purpose of protecting parks from development and other impending threats, but this solution is not always economically feasible,” Wiggins added. “An easement is a good tool for the department to use to preserve the state park system; it costs less, and also allows the land to remain in the hands of the private land owner. It also defends the land from incompatible use issues, and it relieves the department from incurring maintenance costs."


SB 1431 will next be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee.


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