Date of this Version
Fragmentation of open land has been a consistently increasing problem in the Mid-Atlantic States and many other parts of the country. The rapid spread of urban areas and the high price of maintaining large areas of open land are putting ever increasing pressure on private landowners to subdivide their properties for sale and subsequent development. Furthermore, the high costs of maintaining land compared with the relatively low economic yields of many farms and working forests compel the owners of those lands to utilize unsustainable management practices that may degrade the integrity of the property and the surrounding landscape as a whole.
While these factors, combined with a depressed economy, make it increasingly difficult for owners and managers of large tracts of land to maintain their properties intact and in an ecologically sustainable manner, there are several opportunities that exist to encourage the maintenance of open space and the use of sound management practices by lessening the costs of land ownership or sharing in the costs of conservation. Funding for these programs comes from federal, state, and private sources. This paper will discuss federal conservation incentive programs, state preferential tax assessment programs in the Mid-Atlantic, conservation easements and land trust organizations, and the future potential of the carbon credit trade. Together, these can provide a strong economic incentive for land conservation and stewardship, and may help to slow the rapid spread of urbanization.
Date Posted: 09 September 2019