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Making the Most of Our Christmas Present, Funding Bills Delayed

Advocates Alert: December 23, 2010

Spread the Word -- President's Signature Extends Incentive Through 2011

Merry Christmas! Congress has given us a very special gift with an extension of the enhanced easement incentive that will help us conserve hundreds of thousands of acres.  We'll be working hard to make that incentive permanent in the new Congress, but there are no guarantees, so we need your help making sure that landowners hear about the incentive in time.

On Friday afternoon, President Obama signed a bill officially extending the enhanced easement incentive through December 31, 2011 and retroactive to January 1, 2010!  If you missed Friday's eNews alert, you can find complete details of what was extended at www.lta.org/easementincentive and www.lta.org/incentive-faqs.

With just 54 weeks before the incentive is slated to expire again, we need your help spreading the news to potential easement donors in your land trust's priority areas.  We've updated the Grassroots Toolkit to help you reach out to key audiences in a timely, cost-effective way. Some highlights include:

Please feel free to adapt these materials and use them on your own letterhead.  We would love to see the outreach materials you create or pictures from your landowner forum.  Please e-mail us at policy@lta.org.

Thank you for everything you've done to make this extension possible.  As local advocates for conservation around the country you were instrumental in recruiting the 274 House and 41 Senate co-sponsors of H.R. 1831 and S. 812.  Two years was not everything we had hoped for, but your help in securing this extension will conserve hundreds of thousands of acres and has laid the groundwork for making the incentive permanent in the next Congress.

Time Runs Out for LWCF Bills, FY 2011 Appropriations

The easement incentive was lucky.  Sadly, as Congress adjourned this week, several conservation priorities remained unfulfilled.

Despite heroic efforts of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition in this lame duck Congress, the dedicated funding legislation that passed the House in July didn't make it through the Senate.  Never an easy task, new leadership of the House Resources Committee will make dedicated funding an even greater challenge in the new Congress.  That said, we're hopeful the America's Great Outdoors report will provide a boost to those efforts.  That report is now expected in January and we'll be ready with materials to help you spread the word.

The annual appropriations process also remains unresolved. Last week the Senate appeared poised to pass an omnibus appropriations bill that would have provided over $400 million for LWCF, $175 million for FRPP and substantial increases for other conservation programs.  Unfortunately, that bill was derailed by conflict over earmarks and Congress instead voted to extend last year's funding levels through March 4, 2011, when the pressure to cut budgets will surely increase. Stay tuned.

Thanks for helping!

P.S. -- Don't forget to tell your supporters about the renewed opportunity to make tax-free charitable donations from their IRA accounts.  Donors over 70 1/2 may now contribute up to $100,000 from their individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and Roth IRAs without having to pay taxes on the withdrawals.  More>>


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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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