July 24, 2014

House Vote Makes Conservation Tax Incentive Permanent

On July 17, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Conservation Easement Incentive Act (H.R. 2807), a bipartisan piece of legislation that will make permanent an enhanced tax incentive for conservation of farmland, rangeland, woodlands and other important open spaces. The bill, which included other charity provisions, passed by a vote of 277-130. 

Earlier in the week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and 12 sportsmen’s and other conservation organizations sent a letter to members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) urging support for H.R. 2807.

First passed in 2006, this incentive encourages donations of conservation easements to protect important natural and historic resources on private lands. Before it expired at the beginning of 2014, it helped America’s land trusts partner with landowners to conserve roughly one million acres of working farms, ranches, forests, and natural habitat every year.

Landowners can choose to retire the development rights on their land by donating a conservation easement – keeping agricultural land in productive use, protecting important fish and wildlife habitat, and conserving our scenic and historic heritage across America. Under previous law, landowners with modest incomes received little or no tax benefit from donating what may be their family’s most valuable asset. By allowing such donors to deduct a larger portion of their income over a longer period of time, this incentive enables thousands of landowners to afford to choose conservation.

In May 2013, CSF and over 60 other sportsmen’s and conservation organizations, as a part of the Conservation Easement Tax Incentive Coalition, sent a support letter to members of the House of Representatives, asking them to join Representative Jim Gerlach (PA) and CSC member Representative Mike Thompson (CA) as cosponsors of the Conservation Easement Incentive Act.

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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