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Tips for Thanking Co-sponsors, House Cuts FRPP & GRP, Free Webinars

Advocates Alert: June 9, 2011

Thank you for keeping the momentum going!  There are now 259 co-sponsors of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (H.R. 1964), including two more members of the Ways & Means Committee added over the past week. See the latest additions at the bottom of this email and check out the newly updated co-sponsor map.

Publicly Thank Co-sponsors -- and Promote Your Work

259 is a majority of the House, so H.R. 1964 passes, right? If only it were that simple! It will take a sustained commitment from our supporters to get our permanent easement incentive bill to the House floor, and an even greater commitment to maintain support as it is paired with provisions to cover its cost.

To really cultivate a personal commitment, it is essential to thank H.R. 1964 and S. 339 co-sponsors in public. They'll remember you helped them look good to their constituents. We've updated all the sample materials on our Dozen Ways to Say Thank You page. Here are some particularly timely ideas focused on media outreach:

  • Send a press release: This is an easy one, and even if local media don't pick it up, posting a release on your website and sharing it with the congressperson is a more powerful way to say thanks than sending a letter. Click here for a sample release (link fixed since our last alert). You might consider a joint release with other land trusts in the district, like this example from Natural Lands Trust, Montgomery County Lands Trust and Brandywine Conservancy thanking Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-PA).
  • Help their press secretary produce a release: Your Representative probably has a staff member cultivating relationships with local media full-time. Call their office (202-224-3221) and offer some sample language and quotes -- they'll usually just take things from there. Check out this release from Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), quoting five local land trusts.
  • Newsletters -- yours and theirs: An article in your newsletter (sample here) is a great way to promote use of the easement incentive and thank your Rep. But does your newsletter reach hundreds of thousands of people? Theirs does, and press secretaries may appreciate a ready-made piece informing readers of a practical tax benefit they can take credit for. Many elected officials also put together electronic and multimedia communications; check out this video produced by the state senator who represents Western New York Land Conservancy.
  • Host a media event: Scenic conserved land, thankful landowners, diverse partners and your Representative -- your work provides a backdrop for media events that's hard to beat. It also makes a procedural action in DC far more timely and visually appealing for local media. Check out our guide and sample materials for hosting a district event.

We're glad to help and would love to see what you produce; e-mail: policy@lta.org. Your Rep. not yet a co-sponsor? See our sample materials and talking points.

House Appropriators Cut Farm Bill Easement Programs

Farm Bill conservation programs are the single largest source of federal funding for private lands conservation, but in a first step towards setting appropriations for fiscal year 2012, House appropriators have voted to withhold nearly $1 billion in conservation funding.

Among programs that directly fund the purchase of easements by land trusts, the House bill would cut the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) to $150 million, $50 m less than promised in the 2008 Farm Bill and $25 m less than the current year. The acreage cap of the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) would be reduced by 96,000 acres -- about a third.

The good news is that we're still early in the process and the Senate has successfully blocked such cuts in the past. If your Senator is a member of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee please call and urge them to fight the House cuts to Farm Bill conservation programs. Read more.

The Interior Appropriations Bill is now being drafted for House consideration in July. The case for maintaining strong funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and Forest Legacy Program (FLP) should be bolstered by the recent Dear Colleague letter featuring a record 150 signers. If your Representative signed the letter, please call to say thank you and urge them to personally convey their support to Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID).

The Senate version of the LWCF/Forest Legacy letter is now open for signatures, with a short deadline of Tuesday, June 14. Please urge your Senators to sign-on.

Free Webinars on FLP, AGO and GRP

Land Trust Guide to Partnering with the Forest Legacy Program
TODAY, Thursday, June 9 -- 2:00 pm EDT

This free Land Trust Alliance webinar will provide an overview of the Forest Legacy Program Partner's Guide by its authors and give participants an opportunity to learn how their organization can partner with their state on a Forest Legacy Program project. Learn more about the webinar, review the Partner's Guide, and register now.

Chat live with Secretary Salazar on America's Great Outdoors
TOMORROW, Friday, June 10 -- 2:00 pm EDT

Please join us as Secretary Ken Salazar answers your questions about what the Department is doing implement the America's Great Outdoors initiative. No registration is required. Submit your questions in advance by sending them to newmedia@ios.doi.gov or ask them during the chat at www.doi.gov/live.

Informational Session on the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)
Tuesday, June 21 -- 4:00 pm EDT

The Partnership of Rangeland Trusts (PORT) and the Farmland Information Center will co-host a webinar on the GRP Final Rule, program highlights and current status, featuring Liz Crane, Acting FRPP/HFRP Program Manager; Barbara Eggers, Acting GRP Program Manager; and Mike Beam, Executive Director, Ranchland Trust of Kansas. Read the Final Rule and register for the webinar. Space is limited.

We hope you'll consider participating in other Land Trust Alliance webinars as well.

Thanks for helping!

H.R. 1964 Co-sponsors Added Since Introduction:

  • Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE/1st)
  • Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY/24)**
  • Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI/2nd)
  • Rep. John Kline (R-MN/2nd)
  • Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO/9th)**
  • Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY/29th)*
  • Rep. Aaron Shock (R-IL/18th)*
  • Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA/1st)
*Members of the Ways & Means Committee
**Not yet on the official list because the House is in recess
See the full list and map at: www.lta.org/easementincentive/cosponsors.


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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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