News from the DNR Office of Communications

Congress Renews Tax Incentive for Land Conservation

Crownsville, Md. (December 20, 2010) The U.S. Congress has renewed a tax incentive for private landowners—especially working family farmers and ranchers—who protect their land with a voluntary conservation agreement.  The incentive, which had expired at the end of 2009, helped the Maryland Environmental Trust (MET) and local land trusts work with willing landowners in Maryland to conserve 17,195 acres of productive agricultural lands, forests and scenic and natural open space between 2006 and 2009.

“Maryland wins when thoughtful landowners conserve their land this way, protecting wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, scenic landscapes, recreational spaces and productive agricultural lands,” said MET Director Liz Buxton.  “Conservation easements have become an important tool for protecting land in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and have increased the pace of private land conservation in the region.  MET joins over 50 land trusts in Maryland in thanking Congress for making this important conservation tool available.”

This incentive makes it more economically feasible for farmers and other landowners of modest means to conserve their land and keep it in agricultural production. Voluntary conservation easements can protect working farms and ranches and make it easier for families to leave the land to the next generation.

Conservation-minded landowners now have until December 31, 2011 to take advantage of a significant tax deduction for donating a voluntary conservation agreement to permanently protect important scenic, natural or historic resources on their land.  When landowners donate a conservation easement to MET they maintain ownership and management of their land and can sell or pass the land on to their heirs, while foregoing future development rights. 

The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner’s federal income tax.  It:

  • Raises the deduction donors can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent.
  • Allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and
  • Increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years.

According to the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization that provides a voice for land trusts in Washington, D.C., bills to make this incentive permanent have 274 House and 41 Senate co-sponsors from all 50 states, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans in the House. This legislation is supported by more than 60 national agricultural, sportsmen’s, and conservation organizations.

MET serves as Maryland’s statewide land trust.  Established in 1967 by the Maryland General Assembly to preserve privately owned farm, forest and other significant lands, MET has since protected over 126,000 acres statewide. MET is one of the oldest and most successful land trusts in the country, and is authorized by law to accept private donations of interests in real estate, money or other property; such gifts are tax deductible. In giving conservation easements, landowners donate the development rights on their property while retaining all other rights of ownership. Public access is not a requirement. For more information, visit

   December 20, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages nearly one-half million acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic and cultural resources attract 11 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at