OLC Blog

Friday, July 18, 2014


In a show of bipartisanship, on July 17th, 2014 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the House bill to make permanent an enhanced tax incentive for conservation of farmland, rangeland, woodlands and other important open spaces.  The bill, which included other charitable provisions, passed by a vote of 277-130.  This has been a priority for the Land Trust Alliance since 2006, and it represents a huge victory for conservation that reflects the strength of our community, which came together to urge Congress to act.  This would not have been possible without land trust leaders from across the country reaching out to their representatives and their congressional staff to demonstrate the importance of this legislation to voters in their district.

The measure now goes to the Senate, where we have strong support, but will face new challenges in breaking through a legislative logjam.

The conservation tax incentive has been a success in increasing the pace, quality and permanence of land conservation.  Since the enhanced incentive first passed in 2006, roughly one million acres have been conserved per year with easements managed by the nation's 1,700 community-based land trusts.
Through a limited tax deduction, landowners are able to place their most prized assets - historical sites, forests, family farms and ranches - in protected easements to ensure a legacy of natural abundance, enjoyment and agricultural production for future generations.  Land placed in easements can be farmed, grazed, hunted or used for recreation and the conservation of natural resources.  It can also be passed on to heirs or sold.  But the land is kept safe from future development ensuring that today's natural treasures don't become tomorrow's strip malls and convenience stores.

Valuable open spaces or farmland can be protected by an easement for a fraction of the cost of buying it, making easements by far the most cost-effective approach to land conservation.  For example, Federal acquisition of land costs taxpayers roughly $12,000 an acre compared to just $400 an acre for
an easement.

For more details on how to conserve open space see: http://www.oblongland.org/landowner_benefits/

Monday, June 2, 2014

Local Conservation Groups Benefit from State Conservation Initiative

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced in April that $1.4 million in Conservation Partnership Program grant money would go to 50 non-profit land trusts across the State. Both the Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC), based in Pawling/Dover, and the Putnam County Land Trust (PCLT), based in Patterson, are beneficiaries of this program.

Representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Land Trust Alliance unveiled the grantees at an event at Indian Ladder Farms in Albany County as part of a weeklong celebration of Earth Day. The grants, supported with funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will be matched by nearly $1.1 million in private and local funding and will support projects to protect farmland, enhance public access and recreational opportunities, and conserve open space. The NYSCPP is administered by the Land trust Alliance in coordination with the DEC.

Funding for priority conservation projects and land trust initiatives around the state will help communities protect water quality, wildlife habitat, community gardens, working forests and farmland. The Conservation Partnership Program funding will also enhance public access to trails and other recreation areas while enabling land trusts to implement best practices, hire professional staff, and strengthen community partnerships.

The Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) and the Putnam County Land Trust (PCLT) jointly applied for a Catalyst Grant the purpose of which is to “catalyze” local and regional partnerships and community initiatives that will lead to greater engagement in, and increased public support for, the protection and stewardship of environmentally significant lands. Conservation Catalyst projects involve a measure of innovation for land trusts, should engage multiple partners and stakeholders, have clearly defined outcomes, and advance the land trusts’ missions, strategic goals, and programs. Funded projects typically involve collaboration with local municipalities, other land trusts, or other conservation partners. Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) will also be a key participant in the project, one of the aims of which is to build on the work that FrOGS has undertaken in conserving large areas of the Great Swamp.

The grant of $15,000 is to be matched by contributions of $2,500 each from OLC and PCLT and has a time horizon of two years.

OLC is an all-volunteer organization based in Pawling that undertakes conservation in the greater Harlem Valley. It was founded in 1990 and now has approximately 1,100 acres under stewardship.

PCLT is an all-volunteer organization based in eastern Putnam County. Its mission is to preserve and maintain for the public, open spaces and the natural resources within, for the purpose of conservation, education and recreation. PCLT's fee properties total 1034 acres and it holds easements on another 138 acres.

Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) is an all-volunteer conservation organization dedicated to protecting and promoting stewardship of New York’s Great Swamp. FrOGS pursues this mission through Education, Scientific Research, and direct Conservation Action. They provide science based information for local issues and focus on protecting habitat and species of conservation concern through collaborative coalitions with other organizations.

For further information please contact OLC at (845) 855 7014.