The Mule Deer Foundation joined 29 sportsmen-conservation organizations to urge Congress to support tax incentives for private landowners who donate conservation easements on their property. The groups sent a letter to members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus urging them to cosponsor bills in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that would make these conservation tax incentives permanent.

“Giving private landowners a tax incentive for placing their property under a conservation easement is a win-win for landowners and wildlife, and it is essential that Congress act to make these deductions permanent,” commented Mule Deer Foundation President, Miles Moretti. “Conservation easements help keep working lands in the hands of farmers, ranchers, and private forest owners. It also provides key habitat benefits for wildlife, including mule deer.”

Enhanced conservation tax deductions have been in place since 2006 were a large factor in increasing the pace of donated conservation easements by a third to more than a million acres each year. Landowners who make a conservation donation can deduct the fair market value of their donation, up to 50 percent of their adjusted gross income, in the year of the donation and over a subsequent 15-year period. But the authorization for the program expires at the end of this year. Legislation in the Senate (the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 526) and the House (the Conservation Easement Incentive Act, H.R. 2807) would make the incentive permanent and sportsmen’s groups are urging members of Congress to sign on in support.

“Mule deer thrive in areas where there is large, unfragmented habitat and private ranch lands provide a significant portion of this habitat throughout their range,” Moretti continued. “Enhanced conservation tax provisions are cost-effective and help ‘land rich, cash poor’ ranching families to stay on the land. I hope that western lawmakers recognize this valuable program and join in support of these bills being considered by Congress.”

Logo courtesy Mule Deer Foundation

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