Letter: Representatives Support Land Conservation

Although the defeat of the Supporting America’s Charities Act in Congress (H.R. 5806) last week is disappointing, Hudson Valley residents should be encouraged that local representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (D) and Chris Gibson (R) remained firm in their support of the bill, which would have made permanent increased tax deductions for donations of conservation agreements by private landowners.

Voluntary conservation agreements continue to be the least expensive way to retain our communities’ character by preserving historic landscapes and protecting working farms forever, ensuring these natural lands are not inappropriately subdivided or exploited.

In true bipartisan fashion, Reps. Maloney and Gibson understand that the scenic landscapes of the Hudson Valley bring economic benefit to local communities through tourism and outdoor recreation, and support job growth. They realize that open space also bolsters cultural resources and business sectors alike, safeguarding the region’s quality of life.

Before the vote in the House of Representatives, Rep. Maloney said, “Conservation easements preserve our environment, boost our economy, and create jobs, and making this important provision permanent will allow our farmers the certainty they need to make important long-term decisions about protecting their land for future generations.”

At the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, we are encouraged by the close vote on the Supporting America’s Charities Act (the bill needed 67 percent and received 65 percent). We worked with other nonprofit organizations to speak with one voice on this crucial issue and raised awareness on Capitol Hill of the importance of land conservation.

This is a strong foundation upon which to build our campaign to make the enhanced federal tax incentives for conservation agreements permanent in 2015.

Saving land continues to be a shared, bipartisan American value. The Senate was not involved in the vote, but both New York Sens. Charles Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand support land conservation. I encourage your readers to contact their representatives, thank them for their unwavering support of conservation, and further encourage the passage of permanent conservation incentive legislation in the next Congress.

Andy Chmar
Executive Director
Hudson Highlands Land Trust
Garrison

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