New Report Documents Dramatic Success of Sportsmen-Supported Conservation Tax Incentive Programs

WASHINGTON – A new report by the Land Trust Alliance shows that efforts to conserve fish and wildlife habitat on private land through conservation tax incentives has saved more land in the last five years than has been lost to suburban development. This success in the face of accelerating development underlines the need to expand the availability of conservation tax incentives, as was done by the recently enacted Pensions Bill. “The bad news the report delivers is that more than 2.2 million acres of fields and woodlands are succumbing to development every year, meaning that fish and game populations are being hit and hunters and anglers are losing places to hunt and fish,” said TRCP President and CEO Matthew B. Connolly Jr. “The good news in the report is that locally led conservation strategies – especially those using conservation easements – are saving some 2.6 million acres each year from current and future development.” The LTA report found that acres protected by conservation easements have increased in the last five years by 148 percent. These private, voluntary agreements saved 6,245,969 acres in 2005, versus 2,514,566 just five years ago. A legislative provision passed in August expanded the availability and attractiveness of conservation tax incentives, but did so for only two years. Hunters, anglers and conservationists are calling for those provisions to be made permanent. Many of the nation’s 40 million sportsmen are intimately familiar with the benefits of conservation tax incentives including easements and the way the groups they belong to have used them to benefit fish and game species. Hunting- and fishing-oriented conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Trout Unlimited have used a host of conservation tax incentives, including easements, to implement arrangements with landowners that benefit not only ducks, pheasants, elk, and trout, but a wide variety of other species. “The success of private land conservation boils down to this: When people appreciate the natural qualities of their environment, they are increasingly taking steps in each of their communities to conserve what makes that land unique,” said Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance. “With the federal government reporting that we lose about two million acres to development sprawl each year, private, voluntary conservation gives everyday Americans the tools and resources they need to protect their natural heritage.” *** The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a coalition of leading hunting, fishing and conservation organizations and individual partners working together to guarantee access to places to hunt and fish, conserve fish and wildlife habitat, and increase funding for