Falling real estate prices and stalled development have created opportunities for national and state non-profit organizations like the Conservation Fund, Save the Redwoods League and the Trust for Public Land to acquire thousands of acres in California at bargain prices.
“The bright spot is that there are opportunities that we haven’t seen before, with lands on the market that are priorities for conservation,” said Brent Handley, the western division transaction director for the San Francisco’s Trust for Public Land. “And there are prices that we haven’t seen before. We’re looking at values that have decreased 50 or 60 percent since 2007.”
In some cases, the owners are selling easements instead.
Hard economic times have opened up a new dynamic in environmental protection whereby preservation groups are buying easements that require the land owners to restore habitat and refrain from development. These conservation easements allow ranchers to keep ranching and timber companies to keep logging as long as they use environmentally sustainable techniques and the land is preserved.