By Elizabeth Milias
November 14, 2019
I enjoyed reading Gene Byrne’s Oct. 27 letter to the editor on how “we can all be part of the solution for sustaining wildlife,” including recommendations on how to fund more conservation. When it comes to conservation, all solutions should be on the table. And while the government can and should play a role, the government alone cannot get the job done. To meet our nation’s conservation challenges, private sector landowners must play a significant role.
Here in Colorado, many of our precious public lands such as Rocky Mountain National Park are funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal conservation program. Unfortunately, LWCF funding is likely to take a hit in the federal government’s 2020 budget, illustrating the urgent need to encourage greater private sector participation in conservation. Furthermore, in light of the fact that 70 percent of America’s lands are under private ownership, it is essential that the private sector is empowered to contribute to conservation efforts.
In 2015, Congress acted to encourage private land conservation by updating the tax code to make permanent a tax incentive that opens private conservation to a broader range of Americans. Thanks to this congressional action, millions of acres of habitat have been voluntarily conserved by individuals, families and real estate partnerships across the country. The tax incentive is working exactly as intended.
The frightening reality is that we are currently losing roughly an acre of land to development every 30 seconds. Given the problem at hand, we should be encouraging more conservation, not less. It is essential to activate and incentivize as much private sector land conservation as possible!