Conservation easements that supposedly protect Virginia lands from development are coming under increasing fire for abusive practices.

One lawmaker calls the situation at a Fauquier County farm “a travesty.” Others worry that untold millions of public dollars are disappearing into private coffers.

The Virginia Outdoors Federation, which oversees the conservation easement on Boneta’s farm, voted 6-0 last month to offer to take over the PEC’s duties. With the VOF offer pending, state lawmakers are stepping in with two proposals to curb overreach by public and private conservators.

The Virginia Conservation Easement Reform Act would set standards of accountability and transparency for private Virginia land trusts such as PEC, and create an oversight committee to address disputes between land trusts and land owners.

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