Congress Passes Major Conservation Legistlation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sarah Knebel
Easement Outreach Coordinator
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Scenic Rivers Land Trust:
Congress Passes Major Conservation Legislation
With Important Local Benefits



Annapolis, Maryland (Dec. 28, 2015) – Scenic Rivers Land Trust, a nonprofit working to protect land in Anne Arundel County, praises a bipartisan congressional vote that makes permanent a federal tax incentive supporting land conservation.

Private landowners, farmers and the public will directly benefit from the incentive that encourages landowners to place a conservation easement on their land to protect important natural, scenic and historic resources. Scenic Rivers Land Trust was among the 1,100 land trusts to support the incentive through a collaborative, multi-year campaign.

Scenic Rivers Land Trust is a member of the Land Trust Alliance, the national land conservation organization that led the campaign for permanence.

“The importance of this vote – and this incentive – cannot be overstated,” said Rand Wentworth, the Alliance’s president. “This is the single greatest legislative action in decades to support land conservation. It states, unequivocally, that we as a nation treasure our lands and must conserve their many benefits for all future generations.”

In a strong bipartisan action, the House voted 318-109 and the Senate voted 65-33 to pass the bills that included the tax incentive.

First enacted as a temporary provision in 2006, the incentive is directly responsible for conserving more than 2 million acres of America’s natural outdoor heritage. The incentive grants certain tax benefits to landowners who sign a conservation easement. Such private, voluntary agreements with local land trusts permanently limit uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values. Lands placed into conservation easements can continue to be farmed, hunted or used for other specified purposes. The lands also remain on county tax rolls, strengthening local economies.

“The incentive grants access for the middle class to participate in conservation easements, allowing them to carry forward their tax deduction for 15 years instead of the previous 5 year limit, and deduct up to 50% of their income - an important increase from the previous 30% limit.” sajd Rick Leader, Scenic Rivers Land Trust’s Executive Director. “These enhancements makes it financially viable for so many more people to protect their land for forever.”

Signed into law on Friday, December 18, 2015, the incentive will be applied retroactively to January 1, 2015. An earlier version of the incentive expired December 31, 2014.

The incentive advanced through Congress as part of the America Gives More Act, a package of tax incentives to encourage charitable giving. It passed the House earlier this year, 279-137. A standalone version of the incentive, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, earned 52 Senate sponsors this year, including 26 Democrats, 24 Republicans and 2 Independents. The agreement additionally encourages donations to food banks and facilitates charitable deductions from IRAs. The Maryland delegation is to be applauded for their enthusiastic support.



About Scenic Rivers Land Trust
SRLT is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3), non-governmental organization that works to protect the scenic and natural qualities of the Severn, South, Rhode, West, and Patuxent Rivers and their surrounding lands in Anne Arundel County. SRLT holds conservation easements on 61 properties, totaling over 2,740 acres, or one percent (1%) of the land in Anne Arundel County. SRLT has been preserving land in Anne Arundel County since 1988.  It is governed by a Board of Directors that is drawn from the community we serve. More information about SRLT is available at srlt.org

About the Land Trust Alliance
Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents more than 1,100 member land trusts supported by more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C. and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at www.landtrustalliance.org.