Biodiversity conservation requires space where conservation measures are imple-mented for a desired purpose. Setting land aside for conservation has been widelyapplied, while novel conservation modes (private–public partnerships, private mul-tipurpose land management) may be fundamental to achieve conservation goals. Weperform an economic analysis of the cost development for two conservation options inCalifornia, in-fee and easements, from 1970 to today. We find that in-fee options havelower costs than easements in the long run. While there are high costs of purchase forin-fee, ultimately they even-out or generate profits. Costs of easements continue grow-ing exponentially overtaking costs of purchase. Sensitivity analysis shows increasesin purchasing prices and opportunity costs positively influencing conservation costs,while increasing interest rates negatively influence them. The results suggest that ease-ments are not yet an economically viable alternative for in-fee conservation purchases.Our analysis is a first step to assess economic viability of choosing easements.