How You Can Help
The enhanced federal tax deduction for conservation easement donations was recently renewed, but will expire again at the end of 2013! Now more than ever we need your help persuading Congress to make it permanent! Check if your legislators co-sponsored last year and urge them to renew their support in the new Congress.
You can reach any Member of Congress by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121. Don't just leave a message at the front desk--as an organization representing hundreds of constituents, you can ask to speak with the staffer who handles tax issues. Make sure they know of any prior relationship your land trust has had with the office and encourage staff to think of you as a resource on conservation issues. Better yet, invite them to come visit next time they're in the district.
Fact Sheets You Can Adapt and Forward
- Dear Colleague letter seeking original co-sponsors in the House
- House and Senate coalition letters signed by 64 national organizations
- (or print our co-sponsor map)
- For more outreach tools and templates visit our .
Talking Points for Seeking Co-sponsors
- Introduce your organization and tell them how important this tax incentive is to conservation work in your community.
- Tell them how the tax incentive helps family farmers, ranchers, and modest-income landowners protect their land. Share specific stories from your area!
- Urge Senators to co-sponsor the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, , introduced by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). They can sign on by contacting Tiffany Smith or Preston Rutledge at the Finance Committee at 4-4515.
- Urge Representatives to become original co-sponsors of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, to be introduced by Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA). They can sign on by contacting Lori Prater Rep. Gerlach's office at 5-4315. Note: There's not yet a bill number because it hasn't been introduced -- we're seeking a strong list of original co-sponsors to list at the time of introduction.
- Remind Republicans that conservation easements are a cost-effective, voluntary, private-sector alternative to government led conservation efforts and that this incentive makes the tax system fairer for modest-income farmers, ranchers and forest owners.
- If your Rep. is a , be sure to ask for the staff member's email address and forward our letter from 38 hunting and fishing organizations. (112th Congress)
- Ask for the staffer’s email address and offer to send a on the easement incentive.
- Phone calls and in-person visits are best, but you can send a letter if you prefer. .
Talking points for Members of Congress who have already co-sponsored:
- Please call or write your Senator or Representative right away with a heartfelt thank you for co-sponsoring! View a sample letter.
- Tell them how this incentive allows more landowners to choose conservation in your area. Share specific examples if possible!
- Make sure they know that the incentive is slated to expire at the end of 2013 and you're counting on them to find a way to enact this one thing both parties can agree on.
- It’s even more important to thank them publicly! You can use our newsletter article template and to use to thank them for cosponsoring the bill! Don’t forget to send them a copy.
- Learn a dozen more ways to say thank you.
- Want an example? from the Montana Land Association of Land Trusts thanking Senator Tester or sent by Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy thanking Congressman Schuler.
- Offer to take the Congressperson or their staff on a site visit to see conserved land and meet landowners. Offer to provide any information they need about conservation easements or land conservation efforts in your local area.
These stand-alone bills are important for demonstrating broad bipartisan support, but ultimately our success will likely depend on attaching the easement incentive to another piece of legislation (estate tax, energy bill, etc). Please check our Land Trust Advocates alerts for the latest specific and time sensitive things you can ask your Members of Congress to do.
Your congressional office wants to hear from you, and there couldn't be a more important time to ask them for their help! You can also help by sharing our grassroots tax incentive fact sheet with your partners and individual members, urging them to weigh in with your Congressional delegation.
Questions? Call the Alliance at 202-638-4725, or e-mail email@example.com