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Ask Your Rep. to Sign LWCF Letter, Senate Debates 1-Year Extension, Rep. Levin Chairs Ways & Means

Advocates Alert: March 8, 2010

While debate over taxes remains focused on the Senate, now is a great time to ask your Representative to help secure appropriations for land conservation.

Urge Your Representative to Sign a Letter Supporting LWCF and Forest Legacy

Last month, we shared the great news that President Obama sought $620 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in his Fiscal Year 2011 Budget request, an increase of $167 million over this year.  But the President's budget request is just that -- a request to Congressional appropriators -- and it's up to us to ensure that Congress feels compelled to provide that funding.

You can help by asking your Representative to sign-on to a Dear Colleague letter being circulated by Representatives Chris Murphy (D-CT), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Peter King (R-NY) seeking $425 for the Federal LWCF program, $175 million for the LWCF stateside program and $150 million for the Forest Legacy Program:

  1. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative.
  2. Ask for the staff member who handles Natural Resource issues and urge them to sign the letter supporting increased funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  3. Offer to email them a copy of the letter and indicate they can sign by contacting Jesse Young in Rep. Murphy's office (5-4476) or Lauryn Schothorst in Rep. Gerlach's office (5-4315).
  4. Click here to see if they signed last year's LWCF letter and if so, thank them when seeking their renewed support. (We'll also update that chart as this year's signers are added.)
  5. Update: The Deadline for signers is Wednesday, March 17th!

These programs have historically been the most significant federal sources of funding to support land conservation. LWCF funds acquisition of federal park, forest, wildlife refuge and other public lands and matches state funding for park acquisition and development.  The Forest Legacy Program provides grants to purchase conservation easements or fee acquisition on environmentally important forest lands that are threatened with conversion to non-forest uses. Click here for talking points.

With 137 House and 46 Senate signers, last year's letters really made a difference in securing even more funding than the President's request.  This year's Senate letter is expected soon and we'll share it with you as soon as it's available.

Senate Likely to Pass 1-Year Extension of Easement Incentive This Week

The alphabet soup of "jobs" bills volleying back and forth between the House and Senate sure can be confusing, but we wanted you to know a one-year extension of the enhanced easement incentive is in the mix and appears increasingly likely in the weeks ahead.

Our extension, along with 70 other expired provisions, such as the IRA Charitable Rollover, is included in the American Workers, State and Business Relief Act (H.R. 4213), informally known as the "second jobs bill."  It's widely expected this bill will pass the Senate sometime this week, but some hurdles remain.  You may recall the House passed "extenders" of expired tax provisions back in December, but they will need to vote again on the Senate version. It's unclear whether they'll simply accept these changes, or send back changes of their own (as happened with the first "jobs bill" last week).

We will keep you informed!  Whatever unfolds on extenders, we will need to continue showing our Senators and Representatives how important a permanent incentive is for conservation in your community.  Right now is a great time to invite them to see the work you're doing over the upcoming recesses: March 27-April 11 and May 29-June 6.

Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) Named Interim Chair of Ways & Means

On February 26th, the House ethics committee issued a report admonishing Ways & Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) for accepting gifts of Caribbean travel.  In the tumultuous week since, Rep. Rangel agreed to temporarily relinquish his Chairmanship to California Representative Pete Stark, who, just 24 hours later, passed the gavel to Michigan Representative Sander Levin.

Last September, after years of hard work by New York land trusts, Congressman Rangel agreed to become a co-sponsor of H.R. 1831.  Unfortunately, Acting Chairman Sander Levin is one of three Ways & Means Democrats who have never co-sponsored legislation to make the enhanced easement incentive permanent.  We'll be working with Michigan land trusts to change his mind in the months ahead. Now more than ever, we need your help identifying any relationships your land trust or its board members have with Rep. Levin and other senior Ways & Means Democrats. Please just hit reply and let us know.

Thanks for helping!

H.R. 1831 and S. 812 Co-sponsors Added Since Last Update

  • Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA/3rd)
  • Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID/1st)
  • Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ/4th)
  • Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY/10th)
  • Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)*

Click here for the full list.

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February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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