Why It Matters: As the rate of private lands development continues to increase in North Carolina, there is a greater need for additional policies to help conserve private lands in the Tar Heel State. As lands are subdivided and developed, wildlife habitat is consumed and fragmented, and less land is available for hunting and fishing. Access, including the availability of lands to hunt and fish, is critical to supporting North Carolina’s outdoor sporting traditions.
- On March 7, North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus (Caucus) Member Representative Stephen Ross, along with former Caucus Co-Chair Representative John Bell, current Caucus Co-Chair Representative Michael Wray, and Caucus Member Representative Jimmy Dixon, introduced legislation to support land conservation efforts in the state.
- House Bill 290, the Protect NC’s Military and Working Lands Act (Act), would offer state income tax credits to landowners who donate interests in real property for conservation purposes.
- The Act is similar to successful programs in neighboring states Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia.
As North Carolina’s population continues to grow, it is critical to conserve the state’s outdoor spaces. One of the most important tools that states can use to conserve fish and wildlife habitat is a state-level tax credit for conservation easements, reduced fee title, and/or donated land for conservation. House Bill 290 offers a state-level tax credit to landowners who donate their land for the purpose of preserving farms, fish and wildlife conservation, or to act as a buffer for military installations, among other purposes. North Carolina’s previous state income tax credit program, which was repealed in 2013, was responsible for conserving 250,000 acres.
Conserving land is important for protecting open space for fish and wildlife habitat and ensuring that future generations have access to lands and waters for hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreational shooting. As North Carolina continues to experience rapid growth, policies that incentivize land conservation, such as HB 290, are increasingly valuable to ensuring that farms, working forests, and other lands with conservation value can continue to provide habitat for fish and wildlife.
John Culclasure, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation’s Southeastern States Director, stated, “This bill offers an important alternative to development by providing landowners with financial incentives to conserve land that benefits fish and wildlife populations and hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations.”
CSF will continue to work with conservation partners and members of the North Carolina Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus to support this bill.