Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Conservation News and Info from TLTC July 2, 2014

Conservation related news from Texas and beyond...

TLTC Op-Ed Runs in the Fort Worth Star Telegram 

Conservation easements help preserve some of the best of Texas while keeping private lands private

By Lori Olson
Special to the Star-Telegram
Texas is a beautiful and ecologically diverse state with miles of beaches, tall pine forests, vast open prairies and beautiful, rolling hills. And many of our state’s residents have been closely tied to the land for generations, making their living from farming and ranching. But the face of rural Texas has changed dramatically, with scenic hilltops and once fertile farmlands and valleys being sold and divided into smaller and smaller tracks.

Protecting the natural state of Texas has become increasingly important: one useful tool in doing this is conservation easement.

A landowner can use this voluntary, flexible, negotiated tool to protect their land for future generations by agreeing to restrict certain uses of the property to protect its natural, productive or cultural features. In exchange for this donation, the landowner receives limited tax benefits.  (To read the FULL article, click HERE.)

Encourage your US Representative to Support HR 2807- the Enhanced Tax Incentive for Conservation Easements 
This important bill was recently passed out of the House Ways & Means Committee. We now have a great opportunity to put this important legislation on the House floor for a vote! For ways to get involved and contact your representative visit:

TX House Natural Resources Committee Discusses
Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Program

On June 25th, the House Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on the Texas Farm & Ranch Lands Conservation Program (TFRLCP) and its role in conserving Texas' water resources. Later this summer, the Committee will make recommendations for possible legislative action in 2015.
TFRLCP is a state program that makes grants to non-profit land trusts to purchase conservation easements from willing landowners. State funding for this program would dramatically increase the rate of land conservation in Texas, opening up many opportunities for Texas to leverage significant federal Farm Bill conservation funding. Over $1 Billion dollars will be available for agricultural conservation easements over the next 4 years and without a reliable source for matching funds, Texas simply cannot take full advantage of this opportunity.
If Texas were to fund the TFRLCP, land trusts across the state would have the ability to work in partnership with landowners to purchase conservation easements that protect our state's vital land and water resources. With over 90% of Texas land in private hands, landowners across our great state play a critical role in determining the health of our water supply. We need to provide financial incentives that allow Texas landowners and families to place conservation easements on their lands. The public benefits are many....clean water, open space, wildlife habitat.
Let your Texas representatives know how private lands provide these essential benefits and that you support incentives for conservation in Texas.
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