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Tuesday
Jun172008

Weyrich: Congressional Hearings on Land Trusts Needed

Conservative leader par excellence Paul Weyrich has written a column about National Center for Public Policy Research Senior Fellow Dana Joel Gattuso's National Policy Analysis paper, "Conservation Easements: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."

Paul begins:

Phil Truluck is today Executive Vice President of the Heritage Foundation. He is the right-hand man of Edwin J. (Ed) Feulner, Jr. In 1973 he worked under my supervision. Then as now he is one of the most able and tireless laborers for the cause I ever have known. That year he worked day and night on the liberal's pet cause of that era - namely, land use. Had the land use bill passed the federal government would have been able, in effect, to do away with private property.

Although others took credit for the defeat of that terrible bill, I can state without fear of contradiction that it was Truluck's work that was responsible for the outcome. It is true that this bill has not reared its ugly self for the past 35 years but no bad idea ever dies in Washington. The National Center for Public Policy Research has issued a new study which contends that the federal government has found a new way to restrict the use of private property. A total of 37 million acres throughout the nation is under the control of land trusts. The best known of these is the Nature Conservancy. Dana Joel Gattuso, a senior fellow at the National Center, is author of the report, "Conservation Easements: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly." It seems that the Conservancy approaches land-rich but cash-poor farmers. In return for donating their land for supposed conservation purposes, the land owners are provided with federal and state tax breaks provided they agree never to develop or use the land for anything other than farming or ranching.

But the next thing that most often happens is a land flip...

Paul ends the piece with a call upon Congress to hold hearings to expose the way conservation easements are being abused, with an eye toward amending the law to prevent these abuses.

Read the rest of Paul's commentary here.
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