Impact Story 1: The Land Trust Alliance – Enacting the Most Powerful Conservation Measures in Decades

Posted April 1, 2017

“The Conservation Easement Incentive Act is the result of years of hard work and advocacy from passionate people around the country, and the Alliance extends our gratitude to those who have championed this incentive. We could not have accomplished this without committed supporters like Louis Bacon and The Moore Charitable Foundation.” – Mary Pope Hutson, former Executive Vice President of The Land Trust Alliance 

By partnering directly with The Land Trust Alliance (LTA), the mother of all land trust coalitions with more than 1,000 land trust members, Louis Bacon and The Moore Charitable Foundation aim to increase the pace, quality and permanence of land conservation through persuasive advocacy and real policy change. Over three decades, our partnership has helped the LTA influence members of Congress to support tax measures and conservation funding that have significantly advanced land protection. Now over 50 million acres of land have been conserved in America through this combination of land protection mechanisms and funding sources.

Our partnership with the Land Trust Alliance resulted in the 2015 enactment of the permanent conservation easement tax incentive, a powerful tool that helps Americans conserve their land voluntarily.

Our partnership with the Land Trust Alliance resulted in the 2015 enactment of the permanent conservation easement tax incentive, a powerful tool that helps Americans conserve their land voluntarily.

The Moore Charitable Foundation’s continued leadership and support has allowed the Alliance to significantly grow its national public policy program in recent years. Due to government budget deficits and a partisan divide on fiscal policy, there are ongoing threats to the land conservation incentives and programs in America.

In 2015, thanks in very large part to Alliance pressure and policy work, Congress enacted one of the most powerful conservation measures in decades: the enhanced federal tax incentive for conservation easement donations. Reflecting tremendous bipartisan support that highlights a national commitment to natural lands and the preservation of open spaces, the incentive advanced through Congress as part of the America Gives More Act, a package of incentives to encourage charitable giving. The White House issued a formal endorsement of the tax and spending bills, specifically citing the tax incentives for charities as one reason for supporting the package.

The permanent incentive increases the benefits to landowners by:

  • Raising the deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement to 50%, from 30%, of his or her annual income;
  • Extending the carry-forward period for a donor to take a tax deduction for a conservation agreement to 15 years from 5 years; and
  • Allowing qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income, increased from 50%.

With support from The Moore Charitable Foundation, the Alliance continues to focused on building an increased, and more effective and engaged land trust community that is deeply involved in policymaking at all levels of government.

Learn more about the Land Trust Alliance here.