To ring in the New Year, TLC protected nine additional properties around the Triangle Region in 2013. These conservation projects include 113 acres on the Andrews Farm and another 150 acres near the Rocky River, both in rapidly developing Chatham County. Conservation funding was provided from a variety of state, federal and private sources, greatly aided by North Carolina’s Conservation Tax Credit. Unfortunately, this tax credit expired at the end of 2013 as it was eliminated as part of tax reform during the last legislative session.
Since 1983 until now, North Carolina has incentivized land protection for conservation purposes such as clean water, open space and wildlife habitat, helping to conserve over 200,000 acres of land. The tax incentive allowed landowners who permanently protected their property to get a credit on their income tax bill of 25% of the fair market value of their property (up to $250,000 for individuals). According to Reid Wilson with the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, over a seven year period the conservation tax credit protected land worth $975 million at a cost to the state of just $146 million, making it a smart investment with multiple benefits for us all.
At the national level, a federal conservation tax deduction has also helped protect farms, forests and parks around the country. Since 2006, an enhanced tax deduction has made it possible for even more farmers, ranchers and others to effectively protect their land for future generations by retiring the development rights. But this enhanced easement incentive has also just lapsed at the federal level, likely slowing the pace of conservation nationwide.
Efforts to make it permanent are ongoing and have bipartisan support in Congress. Stay tuned as we look for ways to restore strong incentives for protecting land, water and vibrant communities – a good resolution for the New Year!