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New Bill Aims to Enhance Colorado Conservation through Tax Credits

GOLDEN, COLORADO – Colorado’s natural landscapes are getting a significant boost through legislative action, with the introduction of Senate Bill 126 in the State Senate. Spearheaded by Senators Faith Winter and Perry Will, alongside Representatives Meghan Lukens and Mike Lynch, the bill seeks to extend and expand the Conservation Easement Tax Credit program. This move underscores a bipartisan commitment to bolstering the state’s conservation efforts, ensuring that Colorado’s revered lands, waters, and wildlife continue to thrive for future generations.

According to a statement from Keep It Colorado, this proposed legislation aims to eliminate the expiration dates for the Conservation Easement Oversight Commission and the Certified Holder program, addressing the current backlog of projects and potential for future conservation efforts. Additionally, it seeks to increase the tax credit cap to $75 million, a reflection of the growing demand for conservation in the state.

Colorado Conservation Easement Map
Gold-colored areas are protected by conservation easements.

Amy Beatie, Executive Director of Keep It Colorado, lauded the bill’s introduction, highlighting the critical role of the Conservation Easement Tax Credit as a tool for protecting Colorado’s natural heritage. “This bill is a testament to the value Coloradans place on conservation, offering a pathway to preserve our state’s beauty and biodiversity,” Beatie stated.

Sen. Faith Winter emphasized the bill’s environmental and economic benefits, noting, “This program is vital for our state’s resilience, beauty, and economy. It enables Coloradans to contribute to our collective effort in conserving our most precious resources.”

Sen. Perry Will pointed out the importance of the bill in maintaining Colorado’s unique character, stating, “This legislation is about safeguarding the places that define us as a state, ensuring they remain accessible and intact for everyone.”

The bill arrives at a crucial time, with a recent poll indicating that 83% of Colorado voters believe more action is necessary to protect the state’s land, water, and wildlife habitats. Supporting this sentiment, a 2023 report from the CSU Department of Agriculture and Resource Economics highlighted the substantial economic return on conservation investments, estimating a return of $31 to $49 for every dollar spent, translating to an overall impact of up to $57 billion.

The Conservation Easement Tax Credit program has been instrumental in preserving wildlife habitats, wetlands, open spaces, and supporting local economies through sustainable land use practices. By offering tax incentives to landowners who agree to conserve their land, the program has facilitated the protection of critical natural areas across Colorado.

How You Can Support

If you’re interested in supporting Senate Bill 126 and contributing to Colorado’s conservation efforts, here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Educate Yourself and Others: Learn more about the Conservation Easement Tax Credit and its benefits. Share this information with your community to raise awareness.
  2. Contact Your Legislators: Reach out to your state senators and representatives to express your support for the bill. Personal stories and testimonials about the importance of conservation can be very persuasive.
  3. Engage with Local Conservation Groups: Join or support organizations like Keep It Colorado, which are actively involved in conservation efforts. These groups often have resources and platforms to help advocate for important legislation.
  4. Spread the Word Online: Use social media to talk about the bill and why conservation matters to you. A well-placed hashtag or online campaign can raise significant awareness and support.

With collective action and support, Colorado can continue to lead the way in conservation and recreation, preserving its natural beauty for generations to come.

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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