Area conservation groups recently praised federal lawmakers who voted to make permanent a federal tax incentive supporting land conservation., according to the Land Trust Alliance.
Farmers, ranchers and the public will directly benefit from the incentive that encourages landowners to place a conservation easement on their land to protect important natural, scenic and historic resources.
Bedford Audubon Society, Mianus River Gorge, North Salem Open Land Foundation, Pound Ridge Land Conservancy, Somers Land Trust, Teatown Lake Reservation, and Westchester Land Trust were among the 1,100 conservation organizations to support the incentive through a collaborative, multi-year campaign, the Alliance said,
“The passage of this legislation is an incredible, non-partisan success,” said Lori J. Ensinger, president of the Westchester Land Trust. “It is a testament to how citizens can influence government and how local groups can help shape policy. This vote is proof that our government leaders can and do listen and respond when they see a clear mandate with broad-based support.”
“The importance of this vote – and this incentive – cannot be overstated,” said Rand Wentworth, the Alliance’s president. “This is the single greatest legislative action in decades to support land conservation. It states, unequivocally, that we as a nation treasure our lands and must conserve their many benefits for all future generations.”
In a show of strong bipartisan action, the House voted 318-109 and the Senate voted 65-33 to pass the bills that included the tax incentive.
The incentive grants certain tax benefits to landowners who sign a conservation easement. Such private, voluntary agreements with local land trusts permanently limit uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Lands placed into conservation easements can continue to be farmed, hunted or used for other specified purposes. The lands also remain on county tax rolls, strengthening local economies. Once signed into law, the incentive will be applied retroactively to Jan. 1, 2015. An earlier version of the incentive expired Dec. 31, 2014.
The agreement announced last week additionally encourages donations to food banks and facilitates charitable deductions from IRAs.
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