Conservation Easement Incentive Expires in December!
Photo credit: Maine.gov, Old Canada Road National Scenic Byway.
A conservation easement is a voluntary deeded restriction on the use of your land that ensures your farm, ranch, or forestland remains intact for generations to come. An additional benefit is that you can take a charitable deduction on your income and estate taxes for the donation of a conservation easement, which can reduce or eliminate your federal taxes for a few years.
The enhanced conservation easement tax incentive, which expands the deduction that you can take, is due to expire on December 31st, 2013. So, if you are thinking about donating a conservation easement, the time is now!
The enhanced incentive increases the income level against which you can take a deduction from 30% to 50% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). However, if your income comes primarily from agriculture you can deduct up to 100% of your AGI. Additionally, the incentive increases the number of years over which you can take the deduction from 6 to 16 years.
Contact your local Land Trust or Conservation Association for more information and to get started!
RFF President Goes from Permian Basin to Print
Beautiful day on a Texas ranch.
At the end of last month, Resources First Foundation President Amos Eno spoke to the Permian Basin Petroleum Association in Midland, Texas about the plight of the lesser prairie chicken and what it means for the oil and gas industry.
"You need to create an environment that fosters community engagement for a broad scale lesser prairie chicken campaign. The oil and gas industry needs to position itself as an integral community player supporting the vitality of sustainable farm and ranch communities."
Less than a week later, Eno was featured in Stephen Moore's article Using 'Sue and Settle' to Thwart Oil and Gas Drillers in the Wall Street Journal. In the article, he stated his disagreement with the tactic of petitioning the Fish & Wildlife Service to add species to the Endangered Species List, immediately followed by a lawsuit against the agency to force it to act, used by some environmental groups.
Eno argued that the money wasted on lawsuits would be better spent on conservation efforts to save the thousands of species already on the Endangered Species List.
Read more on the PLN Conservation Exchange.
WAFWA’s Range-wide Conservation Plan for the Lesser Prairie Chicken
Photo credit: WAFWA Logo; KS Dept. of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.
Recent studies have estimated that the Lesser Prairie Chicken’s population has declined by 50% in the last year, mostly due to changing land use and drought. Various agencies and organizations have put forward different plans and tools for LPC habitat conservation to support the species recovery. RFF’s favorite approach is WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan!
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) is a regional association of state fish and game agencies that have spearheaded state management of the LPC. This plan relies on private landowners, as stewards of 95% of LPC habitat, to enter into voluntary conservation programs in order to conserve LPC habitat. These programs provide technical information and funding for private land conservation.
The Range-wide plan offers the greatest amount of flexibility and autonomy for private landowners, ensuring that they can continue to work their land, as opposed to listing the species under the Endangered Species Act.
Read More in the PLN Library.
Photo credit: NRCS. NRCS employees, like the one pictured here, were not able to help landowners for weeks.
Federal Shutdown Leaves Landowners Stranded
A day after this blog was originally posted, a budget deal was made to reopen the U.S. Government after a 16 day shutdown. Everyone in the country has heard about the shutdown and understands that it resulted in temporary layoffs for all government workers deemed 'non-essential personnel', but a relative few grasp the scope and severity of this shutdown for conservation and private landowners.
The shutdown may be over, but it effects are still felt across the country. Due to the government shutdown private landowners across the country were without access to USDA, NRCS, FSA, and Conservation District personnel that provide information on conservation techniques, as well as funding opportunities and procedures. The shutdown also closed NASS, leaving Ag and Timber producers without guidance from market reports and adding to market uncertainty.
Tragically, ranchers in the Black Hills of South Dakota, who lost tens of thousands of cattle in a devastating snowstorm, went without any help from the federal government for a week and a half. Some lost everything.
The uncertainty will continue as offices address the backlog that accumulated over the past few weeks during shutdown, and until decisions are made on the Farm Bill, which expired October 1.
Read more on our Keep Working Lands Working Blog.
Farmland Conservation 2.0
Farms like this need to be conserved.
For decades, land trusts and the conservation easements they write have been excellent tools for protecting farmland from development, but now we need them to do more: land trusts must protect farmers as well.
Farmers are being excluded from protected lands by estate buyers who are more able to afford the high price tag that valuable farmland surrounding urban centers demands, and also more likely to let the land lie fallow.
These actions do not infringe on the obligations of most farms' conservation easements, but they are not in keeping with the original intent of most easements - to protect sustainably managed working farms.
The National Young Farmers Coalition is calling on land trusts and private and public funders to support new conservation easements with incentives to keep land affordable for working farmers.
Read the press release and download the full report.
Welcoming Our New Conservation Leader
Become a member of RFF and its PLN and show your support for farmers, forest owners, and ranchers.
Businesses that become a member at the Conservation Leader level will be provided with free advertising in our next newsletter!
To help private landowners, who are stewards of 71% of our country’s land, and learn about membership benefits click here or contact Christine Force.
RFF's New Office Manager!
RFF is pleased to announce Denise Shames as our new Office Manager. Denise comes to RFF with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and positive energy. Welcome Denise!
View Denise's RFF profile here
Louisiana Conservation Connection Update
We are grinding away to complete the Louisiana Conservation Connection.
Keep an eye open for www.stateconservation.org/louisiana coming to your web browser soon!
Maintain your own PLN Profile
Service providers that are listed on the PLN can now update and maintain their own listings. If you are interested in creating a free listing, updating your current listing, or have questions about this important feature click here!
Help Preserve Vital Resources and Rural Communities Today!
Conservation Tax Center
Cooperative Conservation America
Maine Conservation Center
Houston Conservation Center
California Conservation Center
Mississippi Conservation Center
Arkansas Conservation Center