House seeks tax incentive for land conservation donations
Reps. Jim Gerlach (R-Pa.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) recently introduced a bill to make it easier for landowners to donate land for conservation purposes. The proposed legislation, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act of 2013, has 137 cosponsors in the House. It would provide a permanent tax incentive to farmers, ranchers and landowners who opt not to develop their land and would prefer to preserve it for conservation. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) is one of the bill's cosponsors. He used his August recess to visit conservation projects in his district and advocate for the bill. "We all have a responsibility to be responsible stewards of the environment," Bachus said. "The conservation projects that I saw in Clay and Pinson are preserving the natural beauty of our area for future generations and providing healthy recreational opportunities for residents in our communities and many visitors." The proposed bill has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Its legislative language permits landowners who donate their property to maintain ownership, however, they must relinquish their rights to develop the land in the future. "Whether you are a farmer looking to preserve land that's been in your family for generations or a local land trust forging community partnerships to protect natural resources, this legislation gives you greater freedom to make critical choices about future land use," Gerlach said.