On Conservation Tax Incentives, Good News Comes in Twos

Senate leaders, Bush Administration align in effort to remove sunset provision from law that makes easements more attractive, easy to use WASHINGTON – Hunters and anglers across the country recently received two very good pieces of news from the capital on conservation tax incentives. In a budget proposal last week, the Bush Administration signaled its strong support for making permanent the temporary provisions passed last year that make tax incentives for donations of conservation easements more attractive and easier to use for more landowners. In addition, Senators Max Baucus of Montana and Charles Grassley of Iowa, the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, respectively, introduced legislation that would formally codify this change. “Sportsmen are keenly aware of how important tax incentives for easements are to conserving habitat and preserving quality hunting and fishing,” said TRCP Acting President George Cooper. “Our community was ecstatic to see the president sign an expansion of easement availability into law last summer and they will strongly support this combined effort by Senators Baucus and Grassley and the administration to make that expansion permanent.” “American sportsmen know first-hand the value of conservation tax incentives, including easements, in large part because they see the groups they belong to using them effectively,” said TRCP Chairman James D. Range. “Many of these folks are the very definition of the word ‘pragmatist,’ and in easement deals they see a win-win. Both the landowners and the landscapes are getting what they need.” “The president and Senators Baucus and Grassley are long-standing champions of conservation easements,” said Gary Taylor, Legislative Director for the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “These latest actions reflect their continued commitment to this win-win way of doing conservation business.” “We are losing far too much of our wildlife, scenic, and historic heritage,” said Rand Wentworth, President of the Land Trust Alliance, a TRCP partner organization. “We applaud the administration and Senators Baucus and Grassley for their bipartisan commitment to private land conservation in America.” Many of the nation’s 40 million sportsmen are intimately familiar with the benefits of conservation tax incentives and the way the groups to which they belong 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 conservation tax incentives to implement arrangements with landowners that benefit not only ducks, pheasants, elk, and trout, but a wide variety of other species. Land trusts belonging to the Alliance, including organizations like The Nature Conservancy, The Conservation Fund and the Trust for Public Land have used easements to stabilize key habitat. In an era of tight budgets, state and federal agencies have found it difficult to conserve more land, but tax incentives have encouraged landowners to protect lands that the agencies could not afford to purchase or lease. For more information please visit: www.trcp.org/if_conservationtaxincentives.aspx www.lta.org www.fishwildlife.org www.senate.gov/%7Efinance/ 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 conservation.