I am excited to share the good news that Congress recently voted as part of the fiscal cliff deal to protect clean water, natural areas and working family farms by extending the enhanced federal tax benefits for modest income landowners who donate conservation easements to organizations like Orange County Land Trust. These agreements help conserve important natural resources while keeping land in productive private ownership.
However, this incentive is not permanent and will expire on December 31st, 2013. The enhanced incentive has helped land trusts work with willing landowners to increase the pace of conservation by a third - to about a million acres per year, but the short time frame of this extension limits its effectiveness. Orange County Land Trust joins America’s 1,700 land trusts and their two million supporters in calling on Congress to make this important conservation tool permanent this year.
We’d like to thank Representatives Hinchey, Hayworth and Gibson for co-sponsoring legislation in the last Congress to make this incentive permanent. Thanks to thoughtful landowners and a helping hand from the new 113th Congress, we’ll be able to conserve even more land this year and keep our farms in production.