A bill making permanent the enhanced tax incentives for conservation easements is one step closer to becoming a law.  On Thursday, July 17th, the House passed H.R. 4719, The America Gives More Act of 2014, which is a charity package that, among many good causes, includes the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, HR 2807.

Choccolocco Creek

Choccolocco Creek

The enhanced incentive has been a win-win solution for private landowners who want to protect natural resources important to our communities. This new face of conservation permits landowners to set aside land for future generations and ensures that the wildlife habitat, scenic beauty and open space they provide benefit our communities far into the future.

This bill will allow landowners to take advantage of a significant tax deduction for donating a voluntary conservation agreement to permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their land. When landowners donate a conservation easement to the Alabama, Georgia or Chattowah Open Land Trust, they maintain ownership and management of their land and can sell or pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing future development rights.

The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner’s federal income tax. The bill changes the donation tax deduction in the following ways:

  • Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%;
  • Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income; and
  • Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years.

“Our whole community wins when thoughtful landowners conserve their land this way. Conservation Easements protect wildlife habitat, provide clean drinking water, create recreational spaces, and preserve working farms and ranches,” said  Land Trust Executive Director, Katherine Eddins.

” The Alabama Land Trust, Georgia Land Trust and The Chattowah Open Land Trust join America’s 1,700 land trusts and their two million supporters in thanking our members of Congress  for making this important conservation tool available,” she said.

According to the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization that provides a voice for land trusts in Washington, DC, this year represents a unique opportunity for Congress to make a final push to get this legislation over the finish line. With the spotlight now shining on the Senate, it is important to make every effort possible to make the incentive permanent once and for all.

To learn more about the enhanced incentive visit: www.lta.org/easementincentive.

 

 

 

Congressional House leadership will schedule a vote on July 16 or 17 for H.R. 2807, the uscapitol-washingtondc-picture1-001Conservation Easement Incentive Act, along with several charitable tax incentives. This bill makes the enhanced incentives for conservation easements permanent. Right now the incentive is the same as a plain non-cash donation. The new bill would make take the amount from 30% to 50%.

Even if your representative is already a co-sponsor, please call them and urge them to support this bill when it comes up for a vote Wednesday or Thursday. You can reach your rep by calling the House switch board at 202-225-3121.

The latest newsletter will soon be in your mail box and inbox within the next week. Twice a year our newsletter highlights easement donors and lets you, our supporters see what your

The Gill Family on the Cover of the latest Newsletter

The Gill Family on the Cover of the latest Newsletter

dedication has allowed us to achieve.

This month we will talk to Joseph “Moe” Gill, who has an easement next to Fort Stewart, in Savannah, Georgia. Moe’s easement is part of a program that allows the military to have war games and not disturb the neighbors. The program is called an Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB), and it sets aside land close to military installations as low population density. Suburban development has crept closer to military bases over the years and has in some areas, dedicated battle training, mostly due to noise.

Mr. Gill’s easement is a 500 acre spread in Liberty and Bryan Counties and was once a turpentine farm. Now, Moe grows crops and harvests trees. He is also trying to restore some of the native wiregrass to the area. Read more about Mr. Gill in the latest newsletter. If you have not signed up, please do so at this link .

 

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Executive Director Katherine Eddins talks to guests about the plans for Johnson’s Crook.

The Georgia Land Trust (GLT) held a town hall meeting on June 4, 2014 to inform the community and officials about plans to conserve its approximately 1800 acres at Johnson’s Crook in Dade County, Georgia.

The Land Trust’s mission is to preserve and protect land for present and future generations, a mission it has been on for the past 20 years. The Land Trust has protected over a quarter of a million acres, primarily with conservation easements. A conservation easement is a voluntary agreement between a land owner and a land trust that permanently protects land from development, surface mining and other practices that would significantly harm the land and its natural areas. The Georgia Land Trust and its affiliates hold over 700 conservation easements, making it the largest land Trust in the Southeast.

Katherine Eddins, executive director of the Land Trust, explained to the participants at the meeting that GLT took on Johnson’s Crook as a protection project because of its ecological and historical significance. In addition to being a filter for clean drinking water, Johnson’s Crook contains important ecological features such as caves, rare plants and habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Eddins explained that for approximately three years, the Land Trust has been working with partners such as banks, a bankruptcy trustee and the Southeast Cave Conservancy on the acquisition and stewardship of the land. When the Land Trust completes its acquisition and conservation effort, plans are to work with an individual or organization who will own the land and will permanently protect the land with a conservation easement.

The Georgia Land Trust will continue to be involved in the stewardship of Johnson’s Crook and will insure that the land is never turned into a development or subdivision. The land trust plans to have periodic meetings to update interested parties. Updates will emailed and posted on the website (http://www.galandtrust.org) and the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/AlabamaGeorgiaLandTrust).

Eddins also explained that if anyone has questions about Johnson’s Crook or conservation easements to please call the Land Trust office at 256-447-1006.

The first Duck Derby on Terrapin Creek was held this year on May 10th .

Ducks racing down Terrapin Creek

Kids watching the Ducks Race

The Alabama Land Trust and the Friends of the Creek sponsored the event on the creek near Piedmont, AL. It was a fun time for everyone. Folks braved a few showers to adopt a duck for a chance to win a brand new kayak. Our hosts for the event, Terrapin Creek Outdoor Center, also donated second, third and fourth place prizes. Free hot dogs were eaten and the band “The Gypsy Begonias” performed for the post-race crowd.

Speaking of the race, it was hotly contested but the winning duck owner, Jared Williamson, went home with the grand prize. Colton Woodard won the second prize river gator. A special thanks goes out to the Terrapin Outdoor Center for hosting, the Redneck Yacht Club for letting the ducks start the race from their property and Buffalo Rock for donating the soda and water.

The land trust raised over a thousand dollars for marker signs on Terrapin Creek.

The next duck Derby will take place on June 6th, 2015.

IMG_4521Breaking News! The Ducks are coming on May 10th! The Alabama Land Trust is sponsoring a Duck Derby to raise awareness and funds. By adopting a duck, participants will help us focus on the importance of clean drinking water, after all we are in the same bath tub.  Adopters will also raise funds for interactive signs along Terrapin Creek. The Terrapin is part of the Coosa River basin and helps provide clean drinking water, recreational fishing and canoeing for Central and Northeast Alabama.

The owner of the fastest duck will win a kayak. Adoptions begin at 10 am. Come join us for FREE hot dogs and listen to The Gypsy Begonias. That’s Saturday May 10th at the Terrapin Outdoor Center at 4114 County Road 175 in Cherokee County near Piedmont, AL. Come and help us give a quack about the Creek!

For more information, call 256-447-1006 or email tdaulton@allandtrust.org. Check for updates on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AlabamaGeorgiaLandTrust and on twitter @ALTGLTlandtrust.

Eastern Fence Lizard

Eastern Fence Lizard

BIO BLITZ is coming to the Choccolocco Creek Watershed April 30! A Bio Blitz is a 24 hour event where scientists and citizens come together to identify all the living species within a set boundary as a means to gather information on the biodiversity of a certain area. Biodiversity is a crucial element to a healthy habitat for all of us.

A biodiverse community can better withstand environmental changes and impacts, can support greater numbers of predator and prey species, and support a better fishing and gaming community! By the end of the Blitz we will have created a “snapshot” of the speices at the Munford School campus.

We need volunteers to help us identify, catch and measure critters of every shape and form. To help call Christy Claes at 256-454-6347 or email her at cclaes@allandtrust.org.  

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