As used in this chapter, the following words have the following meanings:
(1) CONSERVATION EASEMENT. A nonpossessory interest of a holder in real property imposing limitations or affirmative obligations the purposes of which include retaining or protecting natural, scenic, or open-space values of real property, assuring its availability for agricultural, silvicultural, forest, recreational, or open-space use, protecting natural resources, maintaining or enhancing air or water quality, or preserving the historical, architectural, archaeological, paleontological, or cultural aspects of real property.
(2) HOLDER. Either of the following to whom a conservation easement is conveyed:
a. A governmental body empowered to hold an interest in real property under
the laws of this state or the
b. A charitable corporation, charitable association, or charitable trust, the purposes or powers of which include retaining or protecting the natural, scenic, or open-space values of real property, assuring the availability of real property for agricultural, silvicultural, forest, recreational, or open-space use, protecting natural resources, maintaining or enhancing air or water quality, or preserving the historical, architectural, archaeological, paleontological, or cultural aspects of real property.
(3) THIRD-PARTY RIGHT OF ENFORCEMENT. A right expressly provided in a conservation easement to enforce any of its terms granted to a governmental body, charitable corporation, charitable association, or charitable trust, which, although eligible to be a holder, is not a holder.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a conservation easement may be created, conveyed, recorded, assigned, released, modified, terminated, or otherwise altered or affected in the same manner as other easements. A conservation easement may not be created or expanded under this chapter by any state, county, or local governmental body through the exercise of the power of eminent domain.
(b) No right or duty in favor of or against a holder and no right in favor of a person having a third-party right of enforcement arises under a conservation easement before its acceptance by the holder and a recordation of the acceptance.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (b) of Section 35-18-3, the term of a conservation easement shall be the term stated in the instrument creating the easement or, if no term is stated, the lesser of 30 years or the life of the grantor, or upon the sale of the property by the grantor.
(d) An interest in real property in existence at the time a conservation easement is created, including, but not limited to, any subsurface property interests or leases and any related rights of owners or leaseholders to remove or extract minerals or any mortgages, deeds of trust, security interests, or other liens, shall not be impaired or diminished in any way by a conservation easement unless all owners of the interests are parties to the conservation easement or consent to it and the consent is properly recorded. A conservation easement shall not be construed to impair or diminish in any way interests in adjacent or surrounding properties.
(e) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or diminish in any way the rights of any person, entity, or governmental body authorized by the laws of this state or under federal law to acquire property interests through the exercise of eminent domain or condemnation. A conservation easement may be condemned or appropriated through eminent domain in the same manner as any other property interest.
(a) An action affecting a conservation easement may be brought by any of the following:
(1) An owner of an interest in the real property burdened by the easement.
(2) A holder of the easement.
(3) A person having a third-party right of enforcement only to the extent provided in the instrument creating the easement.
(b) This chapter does not affect the power of a court to modify or terminate a conservation easement in accordance with the principles of law and equity applicable to other easements and specifically including the doctrine of changed conditions.
A conservation easement is valid even though any of the following apply:
(1) It is not appurtenant to an interest in real property.
(2) It can be or has been assigned to another holder.
(3) It is not of a character that has been recognized traditionally at common law.
(4) It imposes a negative burden.
(5) It imposes affirmative obligations upon the owner of an interest in the burdened property or upon the holder.
(6) The benefit does not touch or concern real property.
(7) There is no privity of estate or of contract.
(a) Any instrument intended to create a conservation easement under this chapter shall contain an explicit reference to that effect.
(b) This chapter does not invalidate any interest, whether designated as a conservation or preservation easement or as a covenant, equitable servitude, restriction, easement, or otherwise, that is enforceable under any other law of this state.
The provisions of this chapter are intended to be cumulative and supplemental to the provisions of Amendment No. 543 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, commonly known as the "Forever Wild Amendment," and any other provisions of law, and shall not be construed to repeal any law or part of law except for those in direct conflict herewith.