while visiting my hometown, i found out about a most worthwhile organization called the “land conservancy of western michigan.” whether this particular organization or other like initiatives closer to home (including the land trust alliance and new york‘s pound ridge land conservancy), such groups that keep nature nearby have a number of advantages. any number of ecosystems--bogs, beaches, woods, and wetlands--are protected for locals and visitors by these initiatives. preserved land initiatives benefit all of us, especially providing a valuable legacy for generations to follow. natural areas preserved closer to larger population centers allow more people to enjoy the wild without squandering fossil fuels and contributing to greenhouse emissions. naturalists at lcwm and other land conservancy initiatives take students--of all ages--on guided hikes through nature preserves. by providing volunteer opportunities and the ability to make new friends, these land conservancy initiatives help build a badly needed sense of community in addition to preserving threatened ecosystems. not only are financial contributions to land conservancies tax deductible, but landowners who permanently protect their property by turning it over to preserves, donating conservation easements, and conserving river frontage might find themselves eligible for income, estate, or property tax benefits.
in new york, governor eliot spitzer’s executive budget for 2007-08 contains a $1 million appropriation for the new york state conservation partnership program--representing a 100% increase over the current year’s appropriation. if approved by the new york state legislature, this will make a huge difference in the ability to build land trust capacity and advance land protection projects in new york state.
[last august, federal tax incentives were added that allow conservation easement donors to receive increased deductions in any given year from 30% to 50% of the donor’s adjusted income. additionally, easement donors will be able to “carry-forward” any unused portion of their charitable contribution for 15 years, up from the previous five-year limit. unfortunately, this offer is time-limited. these new federal tax incentives will be in place for easements donated between january 2006 and december 2007 only--tax benefits that conservation organizations will attempt to make permanent. tax benefits for qualified conservation easements differ markedly by state.]
the 3,000 natural acres preserved by lcwm (and countless acreage preserved by equivalent conservancies across the united states) allow us to hear the myriad sounds of the outdoors--all the chirps, hoots, squeaks, and squawks. dedication to undeveloped areas can be an inspiration to people across various lines of experience.