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Land Conservancy Praises Renewal Of Conservation Tax Incentive

The state’s largest land conservancy is applauding the renewal of a federal tax incentive for private landowners – especially working family farmers – who protect their land with a voluntary conservation easement.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which serves a 14-county region in northern Ohio, endorsed the move by Congress to renew the incentive, which had expired at the end of 2009.  The tax incentive has helped the Land Conservancy work with willing landowners in our community to preserve more than 22,000 acres of productive agricultural lands and natural areas.
Conservation-minded landowners now have until December 31, 2011 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 Land Conservancy, 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.  It:
• Raises the deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent;
• Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and
• Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from six to 16 years.
“Conservation easements have become an extremely important tool for protecting our treasured natural resources in northern Ohio, and we thank Congress for recognizing the need to renew this incentive,” said Land Conservancy Vice President Eddie Dengg.  “Our whole community wins when thoughtful landowners voluntarily conserve their land this way, protecting wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, productive agricultural land, parkland and scenic landscapes.”
Anyone wanting more information about the voluntary conservation easements can contact the Land Conservancy at (440) 729-9621 or info@wrlandconservancy.org.
According to the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization that provides a voice for land trusts in Washington, D.C., bills to make this incentive permanent have 274 House and 41 Senate co-sponsors from all 50 states, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans in the House. This legislation is supported by more than 60 national agricultural, sport and conservation organizations.
Western Reserve Land Conservancy was formed in 2006 when eight local land trusts joined forces in the largest-ever merger of its type.  The Land Conservancy, which works to preserve the scenic beauty, rural character and natural resources of northern Ohio, has preserved more than 350 properties and more than 22,000 acres.

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