Land Conservation Advancements Set to Stall This Month
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Barton James
Conservation Campaign Director
(202) 800-2239 | Email
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A popular tax deduction that has helped protect 12 million acres of farms, ranches, forests and historical sites will expire this month unless Congress acts.
Lawmakers approved the enhanced tax incentive in 2006 to help land-rich, but cash-poor individuals conserve their land using conservation easements. Easements, which are overseen by community-based volunteer organizations, ensure the land remains as wildlife habitat, parks and working farms that enhance our communities.
“This tax incentive is about giving landowners the choice of what to do with their land over the long haul,” said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance. “Without it, conservation wouldn’t be a choice for most modest-income Americans who want their land to be enjoyed by future generations.”
Two bills have been introduced to make the conservation tax incentive permanent before it expires on December 31.
Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the leaders of the Finance Committee, introduced the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 526, in March. Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced a House companion bill, H.R. 2807, which currently boasts more than 150 co-sponsors.
“Clearly, there is a bipartisan commitment to conservation in Congress, but we need to push these bills across the finish line before it’s too late and this success story stalls,” explained Wentworth.
Other prominent organizations share his sentiment. More than 65 national groups, ranging from the National Rifle Association and American Farm Bureau Federation to the Environmental Defense Fund and National Audubon Society, have urged congressional action.
The Land Trust Alliance is the national association representing nearly 1,700 land trusts, which have more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide. These land trusts have helped to protect 47 million acres, which is an area twice the size of all national parks in contiguous United States put together.