Virginia’s land preservation tax credit has fueled the protection of more than 1 million acres of open space, announced Senator Emmett Hanger, Jr., last week at the Virginia Land and Greenways Conference sponsored by Virginia’s United Land Trusts (VaULT).
Hanger, a cosponsor of the 1999 bill that established the tax credit, said, “The land preservation tax credit was a joint effort coming out of the Commission on the Future of Virginia’s Environment. None of us imagined that it would be as big as it would be.”
The tax credit incentivizes landowners to voluntarily limit future development on their land and conserve important natural, cultural, scenic and historic resources. A VaULT announcement about the million-acre milestone noted that in the 35 years prior to the tax credit, according to Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation data, roughly 175,000 acres had been permanently protected by conservation easements in Virginia. In the 22 years since, more than seven times that amount, totaling more than 1,275,000 acres, have been conserved statewide, making Virginia a national leader in private land conservation.
Of VOF’s 880,000-acre easement portfolio, approximately 85 percent – 745,000 acres – were conserved after the tax credit took effect.
“Our foundation has worked with thousands of landowners who’ve utilized this program, and most of them have reinvested the tax credits back into the land by expanding their farming and forestry operations and enhancing wildlife habitat,” said VOF Executive Director Brett Glymph. “These lands will benefit Virginians for generations to come.”
Read the full VaULT announcement, including photos from the conference and congratulations from elected officials and conservation leaders from around the state, on VaULT’s website.