Our Work / Conservation

Public Policy on Conservation

photo by Mallory Samson

The Peconic Land Trust is committed to keeping landowners, donors and our government partners up to date on the latest issues concerning land conservation legislation. Please check back often for updates.

Suffolk County

Farmland Protection Program

In September 2016, New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Whelan ruled against Suffolk County in a lawsuit alleging that the County's Farmland Protection Program improperly allows for agriculture structures, including barns, deer fencing and irrigation systems on farmland where the County has purchased the development rights. This court decision has the potential to unravel 40 years of farmland protection efforts. The County is appealing this decision.

The Peconic Land Trust is working with its partners in agriculture and our legislative representatives on multiple fronts to address the Court's ruling.

There are 19,000 acres of protected farmland and 15,000 acres of unprotected farmland in Suffolk County that are in greater jeopardy of development as a result of the Court's decision

Furthermore, similar preservation programs at the Town levels face a dangerous spillover effect due to the uncertainty created by the decision

As a conservation organization whose mission includes the protection of working farms on Long Island, we recognize that this Court ruling has and will continue to have widespread implications for the future of farming on Long Island, and it significantly undermines the viability of our agricultural economy.  

Interested in learning more about this ruling and to get involved? Contact Yvette DeBow Salsedo at 631.283.3195, ext 12 or YDeBow@PeconicLandTrust.org.

Read recent blog post: Suffolk County Farmland Preservation Program Challenged

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The following is an update on the current legislative outlook adapted based on information provided by the Land Trust Alliance and other sources:

Enhanced Easement Incentive Now Permanent

At the end of December 2015, with bi-partisan support, Congress passed (Senate: 65-33; House: 318-109) and the President signed into law legislation that makes permanent a federal tax incentive supporting land conservation. 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.

Thank you to Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, along with Long Island Congressional Representatives Lee Zeldin, Peter King and Kathleen Rice for their support. For more information on the tax incentive, how they work and their benefit to all of us, we have prepared a special white paper.

Estate Tax Incentives

The Estate Tax retains its current $5 million unified credit, indexed for inflation, but the top rate rises to 40%. Also, geographic limitations on conservation incentives that lower estate taxes are permanently repealed.

The Peconic Land Trust continues to pursue the deferral of estate taxes on land of conservation value with our local representatives.

Kraft Booth Southold31

photo by Christine Kraft

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New York State

Peconic Bay Region Community Preservation Fund Extension: 2050

Please note: The Peconic Land Trust does not collect or distribute the funds from the 2% real estate transfer tax (CPF).

The Community Preservation Fund, which was first approved by voters in 1998, provides funding to each of the five East End Towns (East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold) to protect farmland, open space, and historic structures.

The fund has been key to the preservation of nearly 10,000 acres that define community character and has raised over $1 billion.

The law has been put forward to the public for referredum three times for extension. The most recent extension, voted on the fall of 2016, extended the 2 percent transfer tax by 20 years to 2050, and also included a new provision that would allow each of the Towns to allocate up to 20 percent of CPF receipts to water quality protection projects.

Each town would be responsible to develop and approve a water quality protection plan, specific to their Town's needs and requirements.

More on the Community Preservation Fund . . .

New York State's Environmental Protection Fund and the Conservation Partnership Program

Since 1993, the New York State Environmental Protection Fund has provided dedicated funding to communities throughout New York to protect open space, clean drinking water, zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums, working farms, beaches, bays, rivers, and the Great Lakes. The EPF supports industries that contribute billions to the state's economy, including tourism, agriculture, forestry, and private investment in programs including recycling.

A 2012 analysis by The Trust for Public Land found that for every $1 of EPF funds invested in land and water protection, $7 in economic benefits are generated for New York State.

In FY 2016/17, the enacted New York State Budget included $300 million for the EPF -- that funding level has been enacted in the FY 2017/2018 and FY 2018/2019 budgets.

After steep cuts and significant sweeps of EPF funding during the economic crisis beginning in 2007, the continued restoration of the EPF is critical to support programs that create jobs, protect clean water and improve communities in every county of New York State. 

Included in the EPF is funding for the Land Trust Alliance's Conservation Partnership Program. This program assists land trusts in capacity development and projects. The Trust has received numerous grants through this program, most recently for planning projects with both the Towns of Riverhead and Southampton with a focus on farmland conservation.

Plum Island

Plum Island Coalition

The Peconic Land Trust has joined a coalition of organizations --the Preserve Plum Island Coalition (PPIC). Plum Island is a federally owned, 840 acre ecological, cultural and historic treasure in Long Island Sound, off of Long Island's Orient Point, in the Town of Southold, NY.

Over 80 percent of the island in undeveloped -- its habitats and ecological interactions with the other nearby islands and surrounding rich estuarine waters give Plum Island high ecological value.

The Preserve Plum Island Coalition, made up of over 60 organizations from New York and Connecticut advocates for the permanent protection of the Island's irreplaceable resources.

For more information, visit PreservePlumIsland.org.

Government Officials

For links to your local representatives, see below.

And remember to thank your legislators for their support of programs that are important to you!

Suffolk County Legislature: www.co.suffolk.ny.us/

Nassau County Legislture: www.nassaucountyny.gov

New York State Governor's Office: https://www.governor.ny.gov/contact

New York State Senate: www.nysenate.gov

New York State Assembly: www.assembly.state.ny.us/

U.S. Senate: www.senate.gov/

U.S. House of Representatives: www.house.gov/

U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121