Snyders everywhere

A new insurance product, one that I wish there was no need for: A grantor of a conservation easement sells his property. The new owner (usually one with deep pockets, because conservation land trusts don’t use easements to protect economically valueless land) decides to do what he likes with the property, contracts be damned. The volunteer-run, cash-strapped trust (if it weren’t poorly funded, it would have bought the land outright) has to take the new owner to court, and that gets expensive.

Now, as Felicity Barringer reports, a new non-profit insurance company, Terra Firma, is there to offer a policy to the trust to mitigate the legal fees needed to defend the easement.

Land trusts usually win in court — though many cases are settled, according to alliance records. One common denominator: the wealth of the property owners challenging restrictions.