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Conservation and Preservation Easements Act of 2001

  1. Until this law, Pennsylvania's land trusts have had to rely on "common law" when enforcing their conservation easements, which resulted in unnecessary legal expenses being incurred to defend against challenges to conservation easements. The Conservation and Preservation Easements Act changes this. At its heart, the Act says that, as a matter of public policy in Pennsylvania, conservation easements conforming to this law are valid. Furthermore, where there is ambiguity in an easement restriction, the Act directs the courts to interpret the restriction consistent with the purposes of the easement and the Act rather than favoring a conservation-unfriendly view of the restriction language. The Act does not prevent someone from challenging a conservation easement provision or an action taken by a land trust anyone can sue anyone for practically anything. Nor does it eliminate the need for a land trust to defend its position. However, it does reduce land trust financial and legal exposure as well as uncertainty in enforcement. In short, the Conservation and Preservation Easements Act: Reduces the legal costs associated with establishing the validity of a conservation easement, narrows the bases for challenging a conservation easement in court and eliminates a variety of ambiguities in easement law and creates a number of standards as covered in the following sections.