UC Law Journal


A conservation easement restricts the use of real estate for environmental protection purposes. Authorized by statute, these easements are generally granted in perpetuity to government agencies or charitable organizations. This Note examines the possibility of a challenge to the perpetual character of conservation easements by an application of the doctrine of changed conditions. This doctrine historically has been used to terminate residential restrictions when the conditions surrounding the restricted area have changed frustrating the purpose of the restriction or imposing an undue hardship on the landowners. This Note discusses the history and purposes of conservation easements, and analyzes the rationale supporting the doctrine of changed conditions and the factors that courts have considered in applying the doctrine. This Note concludes that when the purpose of the conservation easement can be fulfilled then it should withstand a changed conditions challenge; when the easements purpose can no longer be served, the easement grant should be reformed to support a conservationist purpose.

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