Evaluating Conservation Easement and Land Records Datain Rapidly Growing Counties in the United States and theImplications for Environmental Governance

Abstract

In the US, land records are fragmented and difficult to assemble. This paper details issues of access to land records from traditional land record institutions within US counties, focusing on conservation easements (CEs), CE geospatial data, and tax-assessment data. This paper also explores the issue of privacy related to CE land records and land trusts, the primary type of non-profit that holds CEs. Previous literature has cited landowner concerns about privacy as a driving force behind land trust?s hesitancies to share information. However, we find evidence that landowner privacy concerns may be overestimated and more nuanced than previously reported. Additionally, we document widespread issues related to access of CE documents from register of deed?s offices. This paper supports reforms to better track CEs within register of deeds offices and reforms to make land records data more accessible for pluralistic societal needs and to support inclusion in environmental governance.

Publication
Society and Natural Resources
Scott Ogletree
Scott Ogletree
Research Fellow