“Land conservation is a unifying concept — one that generates strong bipartisan support,” says Sherri Evans-Stanton, director of the Environmental Management Center at Brandywine Conservancy, and president of the board of the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association.
“We are very thankful to Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA), who was one of the lead cosponsors on legislation that will make permanent a tax incentive that helps landowners conserve important natural, agricultural and historic resources in our community and throughout the nation,” says Sherri. The legislation has received overwhelming support from Congress, with more than 300 U.S. Representatives — including majorities of both parties — co-sponsoring “The Conservation Easement Incentive Act.”
Sherri knows firsthand how important the incentive is to conservation. “Over 95% of the conservation easements held by the Brandywine Conservancy have been donated by landowners, many of whom benefited from tax incentives.” She explains that Rep. Gerlach and many of his colleagues “understand the critical importance of protected open space and its value to our local communities. We greatly appreciate their leadership and support on conservation issues.”
“There are tangible benefits when the land trust community gets together as a group to influence policy,” says Sherri, who believes the Land Trust Alliance provides a valuable opportunity for land trusts to speak in unison. “When our voices are heard together, people pay attention.”
Like many land trusts, the Brandywine Conservancy is involved in regional policy issues that often reach beyond their service area.
In response to proposed federal energy policies that would facilitate the creation of many new high-voltage transmission power lines across America, the Brandywine Conservancy worked in partnership with the Land Trust Alliance, Pennsylvania Land Trust Association, Piedmont Environmental Council and others to advocate that permanently protected lands be avoided during the siting process. While Congress did not enact legislation, a federal court overturned two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, and the conservation community was given a seat at the table by federal regulators for the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative. This work would not have been possible without the participation of numerous organizations and the Land Trust Alliance.