Golf course conservation easements represent a controversial type of protected area which may qualify for federal and some state tax reduction incentives under certain conditions defined by the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code and respective state departments of revenue. Tax benefits are often the primary motivation for a landowner to terminate certain rights on a property through deed restrictions under a permanent conservation easement. One easement category within the Internal Revenue Service Tax Code requires protection of one or more natural habitats; however, few golf courses offered for conservation by this criterion actually possess meaningful environmental or biodiversity values, nor serve a real public interest. A general evaluation methodology is presented for objective consideration of such golf course conservation easements to ensure that only qualified sites are accepted. Not only is there a basic responsibility to comply with the intent of the tax code, but natural habitat quality must be maintained.
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