Conservation Tax Exemption
Biodiversity Tax Exemption For Land Owners Who Manage For Endangered Lands and For Wildlife One of the Greatest Holes in Florida Conservation Policy
GTCI has been working to find some examples of other states that have rules or laws that support private landowners who manage their lands for protected wildlife or maintain lands like Scrub or Longleaf Pine/Turkey Oak. Thanks to Rebecca Weagan, we have a model to build from. She found that the state of Texas, under the then Governor G.W. Bush had establish such a program.
One of the key issues for long term conservation of gopher tortoises, Indigo snakes and other species, is to establish a “hand in glove” program of purchasing permanent conservation easements with mitigation funds and having a tax exemption (similar to agricultural exemptions). This will give the financial incentives for landowners to do a good job at protecting tortoise populations and other species will use the land for compatible uses. Currently if you manage for wildlife there are no exemptions and you paying the highest rates (if you have a house on the land).
If we are to change the tide and get TAKE replaced by good conservation practices. Establishing a good atmosphere to encourage private land owners to enter into permanent easements and manage the land properly is as important as removing the URTD testing.
We need to encourage FWC to endorse this effort as part of their revisions on tortoise and other protected species in the state. FWC should be doing this as part of their mitigation program and as part of their Master Plan for Gopher Tortoise conservation.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Contact your local Tax Assessors office and provide the attached information and tell them how important this is for the well being of the county. Write your state legislators and ask them to support this change and to develop and support legislation that will enable a good biodiversity tax exemption. Write Governor Bush. Write Ken Haddad and the Game Commissioners. See section on important contacts.
DO IT NOW!