June Newsletter
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MA Court Clarifies Property Tax Exemption

New England Forestry Foundation helped conserve the
762,192 acre Pingree easement
in 2001.

In the Massachusetts Supreme Court case New England Forestry Foundation v. Board of Assessors of Hawley the Court found that a parcel of forestland NEFF owns is eligible for a full exemption from property taxes. NEFF is a charitable organization that owns the land pursuant to its charitable purpose: to improve water quality, wildlife habitat, and a healthy ecosystem.

Read a full summary in the PLN Article Library

The Birds are the Word

Male Sage Grouse mating display. Photo credit: USFWS.

This month the Lesser Prairie Chicken was officially listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. This came as a disappointment to many State agencies and private landowners that worked hard to conserve habitat for the species to prevent the listing. Some argue that it will have a chilling effect on conservation efforts for the Sage Grouse. 

An Op-Ed in the Salt Lake Tribune argues time will be a determining factor in keeping the Sage Grouse from going the way of the Lesser Prairie Chicken. This is good news since a federal court recently extended the deadline for listing the Gunnison Sage Grouse. A listing decision is now due November 12, 2014.

In similar news, the Conservation Reserve Program has been approved as a conservation program that can help restore LPC habitat and provide landowners with protection from ESA restrictions. Learn more at the Critical Habitat Management Portal.

Decision Aid to Analyze New Farm Program

NRCS agent helps a farmer in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Photo credit: NRCS.

"When it's completed, a crop policy aid instrument (developed by Texas A&M University) will be a "powerful tool" to assist farmers in determining which new farm program option makes sense for a particular farm or crop. The decision aid will analyze crop insurance options to show where insurance coverage and Title 1 of the Agriculture Act of 2014 overlap."

Learn more from Southwest Farm Press here.

Update on Conservation in the Tax Extender

An eastern pine forest.

The U.S. Senate has started debating the tax extender package, which includes provisions renewing the biodiesel tax credit, and making the enhanced conservation easement tax credit and Section 179 expense deduction permanent. The House is planning on addressing the tax extenders individually.

If the enhanced conservation easement tax incentive is made permanent, conservation easements will continue to be a very valuable tool for landowners looking to conserve their land. For more information on conservation easements visit the Conservation Tax Center.

O'Toole Family Wins Conservation Award

The O'Tooles in action on the ranch. Photo credit: Sharon O'Toole.

This year the O'Toole family of Ladder Ranch, WY was recognized by Gov.Matt Mead as the recipient of the Leopold Conservation Award during a ceremony in which he proclaimed July 10, 2014 Wyoming Environmental Stewardship Day.

Read the O'Tooles' story on our blog.

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