Conservationists Get Greater Tax Incentives

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"It's a pleasure to drive north on Meridian Road and see trees and lakes and not see houses," said land owner Jim Dahl.

"It's one of the things that attracts people to the area is the natural beauty, the canopy roads, the clean air and the clean water."

Dahl is pleased President Bush has signed a new pension bill which includes expanding tax incentives for conservation easements.

Tall Timbers land conservancy director Kevin McGorty says the research station has long awaited the bill.

"Private land stewardship is critical. Trying to keep rural lands, farm lands, forest lands so the public can receive some of the benefits of that land through beautiful scenic roads, watershed protection, endangered species habitat and whatnot."

Under the new bill, someone donating a conservation easement gets a 50 percent deduction of their income, up from 30 percent.

Farmers and ranchers can deduct up to 100 percent, and instead of getting a deduction for six years, a donor will now get one for 16.

"It's cheaper for the taxpayers to have private individuals conserve their land," said Dahl. "This allows those purchased dollars to go much further."

The bill is only in effect for two years. After that it reverts back to previous provisions. To McGory, that means the fight is not yet over.

"This legislation is important to us that we try to get it to be permanent legislation."