Peconic Land Trust : Major Conservation Legislation Congress passed will have local benefits

December 31, 2015

SOUTHAMPTON, NY (December 31, 2015) – Peconic Land Trust, a land conservation organization working to protect Long Island’s working farms, natural lands and heritage, praises a bipartisan congressional vote that makes permanent a federal tax incentive supporting land conservation.

Farmers, ranchers 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. Peconic Land Trust was among the 1,100 land trusts to support the incentive through a collaborative, multi-year campaign.

“This is a great step forward for conservation efforts across the country,” said John v.H. Halsey, President, Peconic Land Trust. “Here on Long Island, the conservation easement tax incentive is particularly beneficial to our working farm families – providing them with the opportunity to consider bargain sales as part of a farmland conservation strategy. By making the incentive permanent, our ability to work with the farming community on conservation has been strengthened.”

Peconic 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. The President signed the bill into law on Friday, December 18, 2015.

Peconic Land Trust thanks United States Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Lee Zeldin, Peter King and Kathleen Rice for their support of the bill.

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 will be applied retroactively to Jan. 1, 2015. An earlier version of the incentive expired Dec. 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 announced this week additionally encourages donations to food banks and facilitates charitable deductions from IRAs.

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