February 12, 2015

Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members Introduce Conservation Easement Incentive Act

On February 2, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2015 was introduced in the House and Senate by Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC). H.R. 641 was introduced by CSC Members Congressmen Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Mike Thompson (R-CA), and S. 330, its Senate companion bill, was introduced by CSC Members Senators Dean Heller (R-NV) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

This legislation provides an enhanced tax incentive to family farmers, ranchers, and other landowners who choose not to develop their land and instead, help conserve their land for the use of farming and/or hunting, angling, and other outdoor recreation. 

The enhanced tax deduction for conservation easement donations, which previously expired on December 31, 2014, would be significantly more effective if made permanent. In the past, the legislation was extended on a short-term basis. This created uncertainty among landowners and has discouraged donations for conservation, because there was no guarantee that the enhanced tax benefits would be available to them by the time their conservation easement was established, which took three years on average. Making this tax incentive permanent will ensure that farmers, ranchers, forest, and other landowners benefit from choosing land conservation over development.

H.R. 641 was recently voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee and will likely move to the House floor for a vote next week. H.R. 641 and S. 330 are supported by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) among various agricultural, conservation, and other sportsmen’s organizations.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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