Land Trusts See Conservation Increases In Down Economy

SCLT Executive Director Colin Betzler
SCLT Executive Director Colin Betzler

A National Land Trust Census says that voluntarily protected land in Wyoming increased by 731% in the period of 2005 to 2010.

The Sheridan Community Land Trust has contributed to that, according to a media release from SCLT, conserving nearly 1,000 acres in that same time period. Sheridan Community Land Trust Executive Director Colin Betzler.

One thing that has made that easier, is legislation which has allowed for enhanced tax deductions for conservation easement donations. According to the release, land trusts like SCLT have worked with farmers, ranchers and modest-income landowners to keep up an increased conservation pattern even in a down economy.

However, the law is set to expire after this year. Rep. Cynthia Lummis is among 262 House and 11 Senators co-sponsoring a bill to make the tax-incentive permanent. HR 1964/S 339 will be considered during the 2012 legislature.

Betzler says that they have seen a decrease in landowner interest in the past few years amid the economic downturn, he explains what the legislation means to SCLT specifically.

SCLT projects include a preservation easement on the Historic Sheridan Inn, and conservation easements protecting 1,000 acres along Little Goose Creek and Tongue River. Betzler talked a little about the future for SCLT.

The census was released by the Land Trust Alliance, a national conservation organization, and it said Wyoming ranks 10th in the nation in acres conserved.

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