Write to Your Members of Congress
Who Do I Write To?
- Your state's two Senators and the U.S. Representative from your district!
- For the name, address or email of your Senators or Representative, please go to www.senate.gov or www.house.gov. Or email email@example.com for complete contact information, including staff emails, for your entire delegation
- Please FAX or EMAIL your letter. Security can delay mail delivery by weeks!
- Does a "key" congressperson represent your district? See a list of key senators and representatives. These members of Congress have a lot of influence on conservation tax incentives, so contact them today!
When Should I Write?
- Now! Make initial contact with your Senators and Representatives today.
- Join the Land Trust Advocates network for email updates, and we'll let you know when is the best time to follow-up with Congressional offices.
- The more you tailor it to your land trust and your community, the better.
- Personal letters are always more effective than form letters.
- Follow-up your letter by placing a phone call to the Congressional office! Switchboard: 202-224-3121.
- Invite members of Congress to visit your land trust and see your conservation work!
- Include additional information such as our fact sheet and other resources available on the How You Can Help page.
Sample Letter Seeking Cosponsors for the Easement Incentive
Format on your letterhead and EMAIL (mail too slow)
The Honorable [Member Name]
I am writing as a member of the [your land trust], which works in [your community] to conserve [your mission – are you protecting farmland, wildlife habitat, parks, open space]. Our work over the past two years has been greatly enhanced by a new tax incentive for conservation easement donations, but unless Congress acts, this incentive will expire at the end of 2013. We urge you cosponsor a bill to make this important conservation tool permanent.
One of the most important tools we use is the conservation easement. By donating a conservation easement to [your land trust], landowners here in [community] can retire the development rights on their land, protecting these special places and important natural resources for future generations. The tax benefits they receive for these generous donations are critical to our ability to conserve land. [Tell them briefly about at least one specific donation made recently, or in the works, and its value to the local community.]
["Representatives Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA)" for House members] plan to introduce legislation to make this important conservation tool permanent. We urge you to become an original co-sponsor [House: the Conservation Easement Incentive Act.] or ["Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 526. We urge you to co-sponsor this legislation.] Your support for this legislation will make it easier for ["farmers and ranchers" or "landowners"] to conserve their land, and help conservation organizations like ours protect valuable resources in [your community].
This incentive helps landowners of modest means choose conservation by:
Donating development rights to land – often a farm or ranch family's most valuable asset – requires careful planning and consideration. The 2008 Farm Bill extended the easement incentive for two more years, but it often takes years from the initial conversations with a landowner before a conservation easement is executed. Landowners considering a perpetual commitment for their land should not be pressured by an artificial deadline, and many will never begin the process without the reassurance of a permanent incentive.
We would like you to learn more about the work we are doing, and are confident that if you do, you will agree with us that the donations we receive are valuable assets for our community’s future. [Invite them to visit!] We hope we can count on your support for making the easement incentive permanent.
Send us a copy at firstname.lastname@example.org! We’d love to see it.