A conservation easement is an agreement in which a property owner agrees to limit the use of his or her land in perpetuity in order to protect one or more specified conservation purposes. The instruments creating the conservation easement are recorded in the public records affecting the ownership of the property. The conservation easement is held by a third party (holder), which monitors the use of the land and ensures that the terms of the agreement are upheld. A state income tax credit is currently allowed for a portion of the value of a donated conservation easement.
The statutes establishing the conservation easement oversight commission and the program to certify conservation easement holders in the division of conservation are currently set to repeal on July 1, 2019. The bill extends the repeal dates for each to July 1, 2026. In addition, the bill would:
- Eliminate a requirement that the board of real estate appraisers establish education and experience requirements for conservation easement appraisers;
- Relocate and modify certain provisions governing the creation and valuation of conservation easements;
- Allow the division of conservation to use an alternative method acceptable to the division and the conservation easement oversight commission to value a conservation easement;
- Modify provisions governing a conservation easement working group convened to address specified issues relating to claiming a state income tax credit for the donation of a conservation easement;
- Require the owner of property who is granting a conservation easement to execute a disclosure form developed by the division of conservation and the conservation easement oversight commission regarding the easement;
- Modify provisions governing when a conservation easement may be extinguished;
- Prohibit a conservation easement for which a state income tax credit has been allowed from being released, terminated, extinguished, or abandoned by merger, which occurs when the same entity holds both the easement and the land subject to the easement; and
- Make an appropriation to Colorado state university to facilitate the provision of public access to the Colorado ownership, management, and protection (COMaP) service which maintains a database and corresponding map of conservation easements and other protected lands in Colorado.
Additionally, the bill makes conforming amendments to certain statutory sections contained in HB 19-1172, which recodifies title 12, to ensure that the provisions of the bill will be effective if HB 19-1172 becomes law.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)