Conservation Easements

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Texas Republican Files Biden-like Land Grab Bill

by | Apr 13, 2023 | Conservation Easements | 0 comments

State Representative Justin Holland from Rockwall, Texas filed legislation that would create the Texas Land and Water Conservation Fund and take $2 Billion from the Rainy Day Fund to create a slush fund for land trusts to buy conservation easements on private property.

HB 3165 and the related House Joint Resolution 138, the constitutional amendment that would authorize the creation of the fund if approved by Texas voters, appears to be right out of the Biden administration’s playbook to take as much private property as possible.

Mr. Holland’s opening statement referred to the State of Texas losing 240,000 acres a year to development, but American Stewards of Liberty explained there could be no “crisis” in Texas because it would take 700 years to lose the 172 million acres that make up our state.

Around 50 groups of land trusts and trade associations formed the Land and Water Conservation Coalition to support the legislation, including the wealthy and powerful Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, and the Texas Agricultural Land Trust originally formed by the Texas Farm Bureau, Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association in 2005.

The bill creates the Land and Water Conservation Board, made up of representatives from the General Land Office, Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, Texas Water Development Board and two appointed representatives who will hand out state money in the form of grants to any land trust applying and use them to purchase conservation easements. (Download ASL’s Guide on Conservation Easements).

Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) filed the companion bill in the Senate, but stated she would not request a hearing and would withdraw her bill.

The House Natural Resource Committee led by Democrat Tracy King from Uvalde, TX, passed the bill out of committee 9-0 on April 12, 2023, and will now be brought up before the entire House for a vote.  HB 3165 has 25 co-authors.  Call your House member immediately to oppose this legislation.

Read the ASL Alert on HB 3165.

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