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How You Can Help

Update: May 29, 2014

On May 29, legislation to make permanent the enhanced tax incentive for conservation easement donations – H.R. 2807 – was passed out of the House of Representatives Ways and Means committee.

This is a great step forward for land conservation and for providing a reliable tool to ensure that today’s natural treasures can be enjoyed for generations to come. The Land Trust Alliance, with your help and support, has been working with a broad coalition to make this permanent since 2006.

Now it is time for Congress to pass H.R. 2807. We already have 212 bipartisan co-sponsors for the measure. Please call your members of Congress as soon as possible and ask that they urge House leadership to send this important legislation to the floor for a full vote. With majority support, we can demonstrate to House leadership that H.R. 2807 is a bill that deserves a vote on the floor of the House.

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 should 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

Talking Points for Seeking Co-sponsors

Even if your senators and representative co-sponsored in previous years, we need to seek their renewed support today:

  • 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 Representatives to become co-sponsors of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, H.R. 2807, introduced by Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (D-CA). They can sign on by contacting Lori Prater in Rep. Gerlach's office at 5-4315.
  • Urge Senators to co-sponsor the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 526, introduced by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Senators interested in co-sponsoring should send a signed Unanimous Consent request to the Senate floor.
  • Ask for the staffer’s email address and offer to send a fact sheet on the easement incentive.
  • Phone calls and in-person visits are best, but you can send a letter if you prefer. View advice and examples.

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 expired 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 sample press release 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? View a letter from the Montana Land Association of Land Trusts thanking Senator Tester or read the press release 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.

Next Steps

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 NEW Tax Advocates emails 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 policy@lta.org

Want updates? Sign Up for TaxAdvocates emails and follow @RussLTA on twitter.

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Advocates Alerts

June 12: In Historic First, Conservation Tax Incentive Approved by Committee

We are one step closer to making the incentive permanent, but we now need to convince House leadership that this is a priority for their members and should be brought to the floor for a vote ASAP. Please consider signing your land trust onto this letter by Independent Sector asking all members of the House to vote for the conservation tax incentive and two other charitable provisions.
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