There’s a good deal of disagreement in Richmond these days, but one cause - preserving open space -- seems to enjoy bi-partisan support, and members of the public are also signing on.
Last year, Virginia landowners agreed to put 57,000 acres into conservation, so they’ll will never be developed.
There are now 750,000 protected acres statewide, and Rex Linville, of the Piedmont Environmental Council, says one reason is the provision of tax credits to those who sign up.
“When a landowner preserves their property with a conservation easement, they’re giving up something of value – which is largely the right to subdivide and develop that property,” Linville explains. “They’re protecting something of value too: clean air, clean water, scenic views, wildlife habitat, farmland, forest land.”
Some landowners don’t need big tax credits, but Linville says they can still benefit from the program.
“If you’re a lower income landowner, a farmer who’s not making a lot of money with a lot of tax burden, you can sell those tax credits to somebody else and get cash for having preserved your property.”
To assure that bi-partisan support for the 113 million dollar program remains in Richmond, the Piedmont Environmental Council published a book, telling a story of conservation success from every legislative district in the state, and has given a copy to every lawmaker. PEC is also hoping Virginia’s new governor will allocate nearly $14 million, as promised, to fund local acquisition of open space.