W Diamond Ranch Conservation Easement
Thumb Butte near Prescott, AZ
50 Mile Feast
W Diamond Ranch
Granite Mountain near Prescott, AZ
Payne-Granite Dells Conservation Easement
Ranching in the Future Workshop II
Sycamore Canyon/San Francisco Peaks
To preserve and protect open space, wildlife habitat, working agricultural lands and the scenic and cultural values of north-central Arizona for future generations.
What We Offer
Opinion: Our commitment to conservation should be permanent
The Perfect Gift
By Rand Wentworth
Have you ever found yourself looking at a shimmering wheat field or pristine patch of woodlands being bulldozed for a strip mall or a convenience store, wondering where future generations of Americans will grow their food or if their children will be able to take a walk in the woods?
Many Americans have become increasingly alarmed about the rapid loss of farmland in this country and the fragmentation of natural environments. And they should be concerned. The United States is losing farm, ranch and forest land at an alarming rate, with more than 2 million acres of land lost every year, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In fact, current rates and patterns of land consumption, if left unchecked, will result in wide-scale loss of the special natural places we need and love within the next 20 years.
Thankfully, in 2006 Congress passed a tax law that allows many landowners who weren't previously able to benefit from donating an easement - especially owners of farms, ranches and forestland - to donate the future development rights of their property in exchange for a limited tax benefit. These agreements are known as conservation easements.
Land trust easements are public-private partnerships that combine the charity of landowners and the oversight of volunteer organizations with limited federal tax benefits from the federal government. In the case of farmland, the easements can remain in production but are kept safe from future development. Americans have embraced the idea, enrolling a million acres a year into these conservation easements.
In fact, since the tax law was enacted in 2006, easement donations have increased by 35 percent, with great potential to grow even further.
In the past, those wishing to preserve our natural heritage would have been forced to try and turn some of these tracts of lands into national parks. This is not only expensive, but also relatively difficult to do. By contrast, valuable land can be rolled into an easement for a fraction of the cost of buying it, making easements by far the most cost-effective approach to land conservation.
And instead of creating another piece of land that has to be supervised and maintained by the federal government, land trust easements are monitored by volunteer-based organizations in each state. There are nearly 1,700 of these organizations in all 50 states. Many of these organizations go through an accreditation process to ensure that they can fulfill their duty to oversee the protection of the land put into their care into perpetuity.
According to the 2010 National Land Census, 47 million acres are now being conserved by land trusts, an increase of roughly 10 million acres since 2005. To put that into perspective, that's an area twice the size of all national parks in contiguous United States put together. Because of this, millions of Americans have been able to enjoy this nation's natural beauty.
But the future growth and continued success of these land trusts and their ability to continue to attract new donations from landowners is under threat because the tax benefit that has made much of this success possible expires at the end of the year. The lapse of this incentive in 2012 led to the loss of hundreds of potential donations of lands with important natural, agricultural and historic values.
An on-again, off-again incentive makes it very difficult to educate and encourage potential land donors to enter a conservation easement program, which is a lengthy and expensive process and can cost an individual between $10,000 - $50,000 because of the care and documentation required to make this donation work. It's difficult for landowners to donate what is perhaps their largest monetary asset - the future development rights of their lands - if the threat of the end of the tax incentive is constantly looming.
It's for that reason that the Land Trust Alliance is pushing Congress to make the land trust easement tax benefit permanent. There are bills in Congress with strong bipartisan support - H.R. 2807 and S. 526, respectively - that would make that idea the law of the land. And the long list of organizations supporting the idea grows daily.
By making our commitment to landowners to use easements permanent, we'll be opening the door to many more donations and ensuring space enough for food production and wildlife for generations to come. The commitment to conservation, and the tax law that makes this form of conservation possible, should both be permanent.
Rand Wentworth is the president of the Land Trust Alliance. The Alliance is a national conservation organization that works to save the places people love, and is based in Washington, D.C.
A very dear friend recently gave me the perfect gift. It was, to my surprise, quite generous considering the fact that we seldom see each other because of the distance between our homes in the last 30 years. I invited her to my wedding in June in Prescott, hoping the invitation would give us a brief opportunity to catch up with each others’ lives. Knowing that I wasn’t a first time bride in need of the usual household goods, she made a donation to one of her favorite activities, a land trust that holds conservation and trail easements near her home. It so happens that I have visited this area and was struck by its desert beauty and open spaces.
Her generous gift supported a mission that she enjoys and gave me a renewed appreciation for her friendship over the last three decades. It was the perfect gift for someone who is already blessed with enough “stuff” after combining two households.
Are you having trouble thinking of a meaningful gift for someone you know? Consider a gift to the Central Arizona Land Trust in their name. Your friend, relative, or company will receive a letter of appreciation and become part of our ongoing effort to preserve and protect Central Arizona’s landscapes.
CALT Board Member Jean Wilcox
DECEMBER 2013 PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
Central Arizona Land Trust (aka CALT) is blessed with several assets that never seem to be discussed in these newsletters; a solid board of directors with a vast variety of expertise, several independent contractors who help run our office and handle baseline studies and other activities in the field and most of all our incredibly loyal supporters who have supported CALT for over 24 years. Continue...
The Central AZ Land Trust appreciates all the generous contributions from our supporters and donors over the past year.
CALT'S 2014 NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
We hope to accomplish many things in the next year and beyond.
Here's a sampler of what we are focused on.
Completing the accreditation process through the Land Trust Alliance and become more interactive with the land trust movement in Arizona
Advocating for a Purchase of Development Rights planning initiative in Yavapai County that engages county officials in recognizing the need to protect disappearing agricultural lands and the benefits of public participation in preserving them
Great Western Corridor
Participate in the planning process of the proposed ADOT roadway east of Chino Valley to include wildlife corridors, protection of grasslands and scenic easements with state and local entities involved
Upper Verde River
Engaging agricultural landowners in the Big Chino to protect grasslands and aquifer at the headwaters of the Verde River
Advocate for large scale preservation of the Granite Dells, a unique scenic, historic and riparian area within which CALT already holds a conservation easement
Partner with local developers to meet open space requirements in creative and mutually beneficial scenarios
Continue to advocate land protection to local and regional landowners
Engage with national, state and local governments in setting forth policy actions that benefit open space protection and conservation-minded landowners
Events and Workshops
Yes, we will have our third annual 50 Mile Feast. A meet and greet of local conservation groups will be held by Spring. Another round of Ranching in the Future workshops is planned