Revised Ranchland Protection Report Released

MONTANA: The report – Purchase of Development Rights: Conserving Lands, Preserving Western Livelihoods – is published by the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Originally published last year, the report has been extremely popular. It has now been thoroughly revised and updated and is being released again today at the WGA annual meeting.

PDR transactions allow a landowner to sell development rights but retain title to the underlying land for farming and ranching. The landowner benefits through cash payments and lower property taxes, while the community benefits from land kept open and in production.

The revised PDR report contains:

  • a new chapter on federal assistance for PDR available under the new Farm Bill, which was signed into law by President Bush on May 13, 2002;
  • an explanation of the workings of PDR programs and their history;
  • ?details on the funding of several existing Western PDR programs;
  • a description of how PDR programs are started;
  • a complete list of existing state PDR programs; and
  • a complete list of organizations and land trusts that help communities engage in PDR transactions.

“Montana has utilized conservation easements to preserve Western livelihoods for many years. One example is the preservation of nearly 250,000 acres through the Habitat Montana Program,” said Governor Judy Martz, WGA’s newly elected Chairman. ” Purchase of Development Rights continue to provide Western landowners a valuable tool to protect their farm and ranch lands and preserve our glorious natural landscapes.”

Will Rogers, President of the Trust for Public Land, said: “Purchasing development rights enables citizens to shape the future of their communities and provide economic, ecological, and aesthetic benefits for future generations. PDR is a ‘smart growth’ tool that ensures productive land is not lost to development and that urban sprawl is checked.”

Mark Eisele, President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Agricultural Land Trust and a rancher from Laramie County, Wyoming, said: “Conservation easements, and the purchase of development rights, are becoming a standard tool across the West to meeting the challenges of ranchers’ desire to maintain their land both as ranchland and as open space for future generations. PDRs help ranchers stay in business and stay on the land. Purchase of Development Rights: Conserving Lands, Preserving Western Livelihoods is a very useful publication that provides practical, on-the-ground information about how landowners and their communities can use PDR to protect their working lands and their way of life.”

The Farm Bill: New Resources for PDR

The Farm Bill enacted in May 2002 will provide $600 million over the next six years for PDR programs through the existing Farmland Protection Program – a ten-fold increase in the amount of funding for the Program. Today’s revised report informs readers how to apply for this new federal funding in partnership with state and local agencies and with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Federal Program is voluntary and non-regulatory, serving to assist only those individuals and communities already engaged in local projects to protect their working ranch and farm lands. The Program provides 50% of the cost of a PDR. The remaining half of the purchase price comes from the county, land trust, or other non-federal sources.

Copies of Purchase of Development Rights: Conserving Lands, Preserving Western Livelihoods are available upon request of any of the co-publishers.

The Western Governors’ Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states and three U.S.-Flag islands in the Pacific. Through their Association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations and public management. For more information visit

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, established in 1898, is the trade association for America’s one million cattle farmers and ranchers. NCBA works to advance the economic, political, and social interests of the U.S. cattle business and to be an advocate for the cattle industry’s policy positions and economic interests. For more information, visit

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, working lands, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 1.4 million acres.