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Senate Finance Committee Bill Includes Extension of Enhanced Conservation Easement Incentive

April 3, 2014 | Land Trust Alliance | Washington, D.C.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Elizabeth Ward, Communications Director
Email | (202) 638-5658

Russ Shay, Public Policy Director
Email | (202) 800-2230

Prospective boost to land conservation investment for nation

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Senate Finance Committee today voted to extend a key tax incentive for landowner-led conservation efforts for 2014 and 2015.  New Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden included the extension as proposed by Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) and co-sponsored by Senators Orrin Hatch (UT), Michael Bennet (CO), Pat Roberts (KS), Charles Grassley (IA), Ben Cardin (MD) and Maria Cantwell (WA), in a package to renew a variety of expired or expiring tax provisions.

The conservation provision, first enacted by Congress in 2006 and extended several times before, expired at the end of 2013.  Donations of conservation easements, which retire development rights to protect important natural and historic resources on private lands, had increased to one million acres a year under the provision, which enables farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and other modest-income landowners to receive a meaningful tax benefit for their very valuable donations.

The committee action followed the Land Trust Alliance’s third annual Land Trust Advocacy Day, which brought land trust leaders from across the country to Washington to talk to their senators and representatives about the importance of their conservation work with private landowners to their communities.

The Finance Committee action may soon be followed by a vote on the Senate floor, but enactment will require action by the House of Representatives.

"We thank the Finance Committee, Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Hatch for moving action forward on this powerful and cost-effective conservation incentive,” said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance, which represents 1,700 community-based charities that work on conservation in communities across the country.  “We will continue to push for making this incentive permanent, so that landowners can give conservation due consideration without racing a tax deadline or being unsure of what the results of their conservation commitment would be.”

More than 200 representatives and senators have co-sponsored legislation to make the enhanced incentive for conservation easement donations permanent (S. 526 and HR 2807).  The legislation has been supported by a broad coalition of agricultural, sportsmen’s, forestry and conservation organizations.

Together, land trusts have conserved more than 47 million acres of land in the United States – an area larger than the state of Wisconsin.  This conservation protects drinking water supplies, irreplaceable working farm and forest land, outdoor recreation areas, scenic beauty that makes our communities more desirable and wildlife habitat.

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 nationwide. 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. www.lta.org/policy | #allianceadvocacy

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