Majority in House Backs New Land Conservation Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Russ Shay
Public Policy Director
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Congressmen Jim Gerlach and Mike Thompson
Champion Bipartisan Measure
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, Congressmen Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), with a remarkable 251 original co-sponsors, introduced the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. This bill is critical for the protection of millions of acres of the nation’s agricultural lands and natural areas that support the economies, health and cultural fabric of communities throughout the U.S. It makes permanent an incentive due to expire at the end of this year that allows modest-income landowners to receive significant tax deductions for donating conservation easements that permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their lands.
“The conservation easement tax credit is a tremendously practical way to provide tax relief to property owners while helping preserve natural resources and open spaces that enhance the quality of life in our communities,” Congressman Gerlach said. “As co-chair of the House Land Conservation Caucus, I will continue working with the Land Trust Alliance and other groups to ensure that the conservation easement tax credit continues to be an option available to family farmers, moderate-income property owners and others.”
“Tax incentives can be a powerful tool to help green our economy and protect our natural resources,” said Congressman Thompson. “Conservation easements have been particularly effective, encouraging landowners to conserve millions of acres of farm lands and scenic open spaces. By making this important conservation tool permanent, this bill would help preserve even more land for future generations.”
When donating a conservation easement, landowners maintain ownership and management of their land and can pass the land on to their heirs, but forego their rights to develop the land in the future. Congressmen Gerlach and Thompson expect their bill will make it possible for more families to afford to conserve their land. A survey shows that this incentive boosts the land saved by conservation easements by a third – to over one million acres per year.
The 251 Representatives from 47 states who have signed on as original co-sponsors include the Chairman, Ranking Democrat, and majorities of both parties on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax measures. A broad coalition of sportsmen, outdoors enthusiasts, farmers, ranchers and national conservation groups are working together to make this incentive permanent in the 112th Congress.
Land Trust Alliance President Rand Wentworth praised the work of Congressmen Gerlach and Thompson. “In this era of partisanship and discord, it is encouraging to see these two leaders step up and fight to enact this bill.” He added: “Their efforts to make this important conservation tool permanent are welcomed by the nation’s 1,700 land trusts, their two million supporters, and the countless local communities seeking to protect the clean air and water, scenic landscapes, recreational places, and wildlife habitat that are central to their lives.”
The enhanced tax incentive allows working family farmers, ranchers and forest owners, to deduct up to 100% of their income for as many as 16 years in order to deduct the full value of their generous gift. First passed in 2006 and extended twice, this incentive is set to expire on December 31, 2011. The Conservation Easement Incentive Act will make this valuable conservation tool permanent.
See the list of 251 original co-sponsors here: www.lta.org/easementincentive/cosponsors.
About the Land Trust Alliance
The Land Trust Alliance is a national conservation group that works on behalf of the nation’s 1,700 land trusts to save the places people love by strengthening conservation throughout America. The Alliance works to increase the pace and quality of conservation by advocating favorable tax policies and training land trusts in best practices, and working to ensure the permanence of conservation in the face of continuing threats.