Conservation Tax Incentive Act  

Conservation Easements:   H.R. 1576 - Rep. Thompson (D-CA) & Rep. Camp
(R-MI) S.469 - Sen. Baucus (D-MT) & Sen. Grassley (R-IA)

ESA Tax Incentives:   H.R. 1422 - Rep. Thompson (D-CA) & Rep. Young (R-AK)
S.700 - Sen. Baucus (D-MT) & Sen. Crapo (R-ID)

Position: Support

Incentives for private landowners to manage their land for open space and wildlife are an important tool for the conservation community to achieve a number of wildlife management and other conservation objectives.

The first two bills would make permanent a provision passed last year that provides incentives for farmers and ranchers to voluntarily place land into conservation easements to help protect wildlife habitat. The second two bills are nearly identical and provide tax incentives for landowners to help recover endangered and threatened species. This will be particularly helpful to working farmers, ranchers and woodlot owners to enable them to stay on the land and also contribute to the conservation of listed species.

Both sets of legislation are bi-partisan and bi-cameral. Over 40 Conservation organizations, including SCI, have sent letters supporting these legislative recommendations.

Conservation Easements Talking Points:

  • Voluntary conservation agreements, also known as conservation easements, are an important tool for land conservation. When landowners donate voluntary conservation agreements, they protect resources important to the public by giving up future development rights, while retaining ownership and management of the land.
  • The 2006 law, which allowed landowners to benefit from voluntarily protecting important natural and agricultural resources on their land, was set to expire at the end of this year. H.R. 1576 and S. 469 would make the law permanent.
  • The 2006 law extends the carry-forward period for tax deductions for voluntary conservation agreements from 5 to 15 years and raises the cap on those deductions from 30 percent of a donor's adjusted gross income to 50 percent – and to 100 percent for qualifying farmers and ranchers. This allows ranchers, farmers and other modest-income landowners to get a much larger benefit for donating very valuable development rights to their land.
  • S. 469 has immense potential to help private landowners keep agricultural lands in productive use, protect important wildlife habitats, and conserve our scenic and historic heritage in your state and across America.

ESA Tax Incentives Talking Points:

  • Landowners can qualify under the Endangered Species Recovery Act by agreeing to implement land management practices that coincide with pre-approved species recovery plans. The agreements must include a schedule, deadline and monitoring system.
  • To qualify for the tax incentives, landowners must demonstrate that animals listed as endangered or threatened live or migrate through their property.

The landowner must implement a government-approved recovery plan designed to reverse the decline of the listed species.