House Bill No. 181
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act limiting the duration of conservation easements granted to public bodies to a term of 5 or more years; and amending sections 76-6-103, 76-6-202, 76-6-208, and 77-2-319, MCA."
WHEREAS, the State of Montana recognizes the need for conservation efforts; and
WHEREAS, where they are applied with realistic restrictions and terms, conservation easements can benefit all persons; and
WHEREAS, "in perpetuity" clauses sell Montana's children's future by limiting growth in communities and negating economic development efforts; and
WHEREAS, conservation easements should be written so that property owners do not have to sell their property rights forever and therefore should be written with options for termination within 5 to 10 years to allow property owners to retain options for their valuable rights and futures.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 76-6-103, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-6-103. Purposes. In accordance with the findings in 76-6-102, the legislature states that the purposes of this chapter are to:
(1) authorize and enable public bodies and certain
qualifying qualified private organizations voluntarily to provide for the
preservation of native plants or animals, biotic communities, or geological or geographical formations of scientific,
aesthetic, or educational interest;
(2) provide for the preservation of other significant open-space land anywhere in the state
either in perpetuity or for a term
of years; and
(3) encourage private participation in
such a the program by establishing the policy to be utilized in determining the
property tax to be levied upon the real property which is subject to the provisions of this chapter."
Section 2. Section 76-6-202, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-6-202. Duration of conservation easements.
Conservation easements may be granted either in perpetuity or (1) A
landowner may grant to a public body a conservation easement for a term of years . If granted for a term of years, that term
may not be of not less than 15 5 years. An easement granted for a term of years may be renewed for a term of 15 5 or more
years upon the execution of a new granting instrument by the parties.
(2) A landowner may grant to a qualified private organization a conservation easement either in perpetuity or for a term of years. If granted for a term of years, that term may not be less than 5 years. An easement granted for a term of years may be renewed for a term of 5 or more years upon the execution of a new granting instrument by the parties."
Section 3. Section 76-6-208, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-6-208. Taxation of property subject to conservation easement. (1) Assessments made for taxation on property
subject to a conservation easement
either in perpetuity or where a public body holds the conservation easement for a term
of years, or on property subject to a conservation easement where a public body or a qualifying qualified private
organization holds the conservation easement either in perpetuity or for a term of years, shall must be determined on the
basis of the restricted purposes for which the property may be used. The minimum assessed value for land subject to an
easement conveyed under this chapter may not be less than the actual assessed value of such the land in calendar year 1973.
Any land subject to such a conservation easement may not be classified into a class affording a lesser assessed valuation
solely by reason of the creation of the easement. The value of the interest held by a public body or qualifying private
organization shall be is exempt from property taxation.
(2) Expiration of an easement granted for a term of years
shall may not result in a reassessment of the land for property tax
purposes if the easement is renewed and the granting instrument reflecting the renewed easement is executed and properly
filed not later than 15 days after the date of expiration."
Section 4. Section 77-2-319, MCA, is amended to read:
"77-2-319. Conservation easement for certain sales. As a condition of any sale initiated pursuant to 77-2-318, the board
shall, if consistent with its trust responsibility, grant to the state of Montana a conservation easement, as provided for in
76-6-203, for the leased cabin or home site or city or town lot to be sold. The conservation easement must run with the land
in perpetuity and must:
(1) prohibit subdivision of the land, lake, or stream;
(2) for property within 100 feet of a river, stream, or lake, prohibit the cutting of trees except as necessary for construction on the lot, fire prevention, safety, or protection of personal property; and
(3) require that any permanent structure be set back 25 feet from the high-water mark of a lake or stream."