Government Funding and Policies Matter
To increase the pace of land conservation, the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and 23 local land trusts educate state legislators and members of Congress about the need for:
- increased funding for conservation programs
- expanded tax incentives for landowners who donate land or conservation easements
- policies that boost private land conservation
Adequate state and federal funding is essential to land trusts’ ability to conserve high priority conservation lands. Acquiring land to expand state parks or protect drinking water supplies, or preserving family farms with conservation easements, requires significant resources.
Many landowners are interested in incentives such as tax deductions and credits rather than cash payments, which is why land trusts support expanded incentives for people who voluntarily conserve their land. Unfortunately, the NC General Assembly in 2013 repealed the state income tax credit for donations of conservation lands. However, the US Congress did make the enhanced federal tax deduction for donations of conservation easements permanent in 2015.
In 2015-2016 NC General Assembly conservation funding has increased significantly up to almost $50 million per year. In addition, North Carolina voters approved the Connect NC Bond referendum in March of 2016, which among other things, provided $75 million for land acquisitions and facility improvements at North Carolina state parks.
Legislators have recognized that conservation is critical to maintaining North Carolina’s three largest industries, agriculture ($78 billion/year and 120,000 jobs), tourism ($18 billion per year and 188,000 jobs), and the military ($16 billion). In addition, the total economic impact from fishing, hunting, and wildlife-related recreation is $3.3 billion per year, and for our fantastic system of state parks, the figure is more than $400 million. Find out more about state conservation policy issues.
You can play an essential role in helping us educate elected officials about the need for conservation funding, incentives, and policies. Legislators love to hear from folks back home, and we need you to tell them why you care about conservation. Make your voice heard – sign up for our action alerts!
Here’s another key fact: for every $1 dollar that has been invested by the state’s three conservation trust funds, North Carolinians have received a $4 return in natural goods and services such as drinking water protection, cleaner air, productive farmland and flood control, according to a 2011 report from the Trust for Public Land.