Date of Award

Fall 2013

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Richard England


Conservation of agricultural and forestry land has taken on a new urgency as development patterns have exploded over the past few decades, due to demand for residential, industrial and commercial land uses in the U.S. As a result, numerous land conservation programs have been implemented over the years. Current Use Property Taxation is one of the land conservation programs that was initiated in the 1960s, introducing some property tax relief for landowners who wished to keep undeveloped productive land in current use without developing it for more urbanized uses.

The substantial property tax relief landowners receive by enrolling land in the Current Use program was believed to be the main determinant in avoiding property tax induced land development. However, the forgone property tax revenue was a concern for state and local governments. In order to recapture forgone tax revenues and also to discourage enrollment of land for short-term property tax gains, withdrawal penalties and restrictions on land development were introduced. Current Use program features are not consistent across states and the reasons for interstate differences are not clear.

This dissertation explores the factors that lead to such variations across states and whether such variations in fact lead to differences in land development. One chapter focuses on detailing the factors that lead New Hampshire landowners to enroll land in the program, while another chapter explores the factors that determined differences in program features across states. The last chapter explores whether the Current Use program is effective in slowing the land development in the U.S. by considering a town-level case study from New Hampshire and also a state level analysis.