July 17, 2014 Land Trust Alliance Washington, D.C.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Elizabeth Ward
Director of Communications
Land Trust Alliance
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Land Trust Alliance (the Alliance) today hailed the bipartisan House passage of the bill that will increase donations to charities across the country, and that includes an enhanced tax incentive for conservation of farmland, rangeland, woodlands and other important open spaces. The bill passed by a vote of 277-130.
“This is a great day for conservation and a great day for charitable giving,” said Rand Wentworth, president of the Alliance. “Getting the easement incentive back into force will mean the conservation of hundreds of thousands more acres each year.”
H.R. 4719, the America Gives More Act, contains a number of vital provisions that will allow this nation’s charities – including land trusts – to continue their work in serving their communities across the country.
“Conservation easement donations by landowners have increased to one million acres per year – a thirty percent increase – since the enhanced incentive first passed in 2006,” noted Wentworth. The easements are overseen by the nation’s 1,700 private land trusts, often staffed by volunteers. “This is good public policy that combines the generosity and foresight of landowners with the commitment of land trusts, and is a win-win situation for all,” he said. “I want to especially recognize Representatives Dave Camp (MI), Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Jim Gerlach (PA), whose leadership was instrumental in this victory.”
With the approval of H.R. 4719 in the House, the spotlight now shines on the Senate to vote in favor of its final passage. A Senate bill to make the conservation tax incentive permanent, S. 526, has 25 co-sponsors. “This measure has many strong champions in the Senate, and we are committed to continue working with them to get this bill over the finish line,” said Wentworth.
The enhanced tax incentive has expired a number of times since first passage. This has made it increasingly difficult to convince would-be donors to make large land donations, which can be not only time consuming but costly for landowners. “This red light, green light approach to conservation is not smart policy,” said Wentworth. “The nation has a commitment to conserving our lands and waters, and it needs this incentive to be permanent to get us there.”
Sixty-five national organizations – including The Nature Conservancy, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Rifle Association, American Farmland Trust, Ducks Unlimited, American Farm Bureau Federation, Civil War Preservation Trust and National Audubon Society – also back the idea of making the enhanced conservation tax credit permanent.
The Land Trust Alliance is the national association representing 1,200 land trusts, which have more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide.