By Michael Howell
The County Commissioners delayed final approval of the county’s Natural Resource Use Policy to make a last minute correction to the document. Following months of line by line, word by word examination of th
e draft, the commissioners finally approved the final draft at a meeting on Wednesday, November 14. A meeting was scheduled for Friday, November 16 to give final approval to the resolution to adopt the policy. That meeting has been rescheduled for Wednesday, November 21 because an error was pointed out in the document that the commissioners have agreed to address.
Gavin Ricklefs, of the Bitterroot Land Trust, which has handled several conservation easements as part of the county Open Lands Bond program, noticed an error related to conservation easements and alerted the commissioners to the mistake. They have agreed to correct the mistake.
The final draft, as approved, contained a reference to conservation easements to the effect that placing land under a conservation easement removes it from the county tax base. This is not true. Ricklefs said that he had not been following the development of the resource policy very closely and did not recognize the error until after the meeting at which the draft was approved.
“It’s a common misconception that should not be promulgated in the community,” said Ricklefs. “Placing a conservation easement on a property does not change the taxes that are owed.”
Ricklefs said he was glad that the commissioners were agreeable to correcting the error before adoption of the policy by resolution. That action is now scheduled to be taken on Wednesday, November 21.