The Land Trust Alliance on Tuesday praised support that is gaining in the U.S. House for a bill that renews tax incentives for conserving land through conservation easements.
The Conservation Easement Incentive Act, introduced last year by Rep. Jim Gerlach (R-Penn.) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif), would make permanent the enhanced tax incentives created in 2006 to help landowners preserve farms, ranches, forests and historical sites in protected easements, working in partnership with land trusts – nonprofit conservation organizations.
Land trusts have conserved more than 47 million acres, an increase of roughly 10 million acres since 2005.
The bill now has 219 co-sponsors in the House, said Rand Wentworth, president of the Land Trust Alliance.
The Land Trust Alliance is the national association representing 1,700 land trusts, which have more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide.
The incentive, which enabled private landowners to conserve a million acres a year, expired Jan 1.
From a Land Trust Alliance press release:
"The enhanced incentive, first passed in 2006, has expired repeatedly since passage including the end of last year. “This on-again, off-again incentive makes it nearly impossible to educate and encourage potential land donors to enter a conservation easement program,” said Wentworth. “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.”
"Conservation easements set aside land at a fraction of what it would cost for the federal government to purchase and supervise the land, and the land remains on the tax rolls. Moreover, the cost of working with private landowners to maintain these easements is born by nonprofit land trusts rather than the government.
“Conservation easements are a voluntary, market-based solution to ensure healthy food, clean waters and sustainable communities for all Americans,” Wentworth said. “If conservation is going to be permanent, then the law that provides this important tax incentive should be as well.”
"Although the bill has a solid backing, there are a limited number of legislative days left in the Congress to get the work done. “The enhanced conservation tax credit deserves consideration on the House floor,” Wentworth added.
"Sixty-five national organizations – including The Nature Conservancy, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Rifle Association, Ducks Unlimited, American Farm Bureau Federation, Environmental Defense Fund and National Audubon Society – also back the idea of making the enhanced conservation tax credit permanent.''
This spring, a federal agency announced that Asian carp eggs had been discovered in Pool 9 of the Mississippi River, about 250 miles farther north than reproducing populations of these carp were thought to have existed.
The finding stunned fisheries researchers and managers, and added urgency to plans already in place to stop the carp from swimming further upstream and establishing footholds in the Mississippi as far north as the Twin Cities, and in the Minnesota and St. Croix rivers.
Federal fisheries managers had concluded by visual inspection that the eggs were those of either silver or bighead carp.
Now the U.S. Geological Survey says the eggs are not those of any of the four species of Asian carp that are plaguing U.S. waters: bighead, silver, black or grass.
The mistaken discovery had prompted University of Minnesota researcher Peter Sorensen — shown with other researchers in the photo above at their U labraotory — to accelerate plans to place speakers (technically, transducers) on the downriver side of the downriver lock doors of Lock and Dam 8 near Genoa, Wis.
The speakers cost about $7,000 apiece, require about $2,000 a year in electricity to operate and would be attached to the lock by divers.
Sorensen said Tuesday that installation of the speakers, which likely will transmit motorboat sounds, is going ahead, regardless of the egg identification mistake, noting that rogue specimens of Asian carp have been found as far north as the St. Croix River since 1997.
Stopping upstream migrations of Asian carp further south on the Mississippi is also the only way to protect the Minnesota River, as well as the St. Croix, from reproducing infestations of these fish, Sorensen has noted.
Sorensen doesn't think the speakers will thwart 100 percent of Asian carp swimming upstream. But he believes the concept will be effective, and if so, additional speakers might be added in the future at Lock and Dam 5 and possibly Lock and Dam 3.
Sorensen and other researchers at the U also plan to use the school's supercomputer beginning this summer to simulate flow adjustments on Mississippi River dams that might further inhibit upstream movement of Asian carp.
The U.S. Corps of Engineers is cooperating in these and other efforts, Sorensen said.
The speaker project is being funded largely by lottery money overseen by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR), together with some private funds.
Walleye fishing is improving daily across much of Minnesota.
Upper Red has been hot all season. Crane and Namakan on the Canadian border were good when the Ontario season opened last Saturday. Vermilion was good on the opener for many anglers, despite the ice. Saganaga at the end of the Gunflint Trail is finally ice-free.
And great walleye fishing is occurring next door to the Twin Cities on the St. Croix River, reports guide Dick "the Griz'' Grzywinski (photo above, while fishing earlier this spring on the Mississippi) of St. Paul (651-771-6231 or book through Blue Ribbon Bait in St. Paul, 651-777-2421.)
Guide Tony Roach (763-226-6656 or www.roachsguideservice.com) is doing well on Mille Lacs, catching mixed bags of walleyes, smallies and northerns.
And Guide Tom Neustrom is doing well on Grand Rapids area lakes, including Leech and Winnie. Contact: 218-327-2312 or 218-259-2628, or email@example.com.
Both Gov. Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Prettner Solon were on Gull Lake at 12:01 Saturday. Dayton didn't catch a walleye in the early going, but Prettner Solon did. Here are photos:
The annual Muskie Expo runs today, Friday, April 4, through Sunday, April 6, at the Ganglehoff Center on the campus of Concordia University, on the southwest corner of Hamline and Marshall in St. Paul.
Show hours on April 4, are 2-9 p.m. Hours Saturday are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. And Sunday, the show runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is $10.00. Weekend passes are $17.00 (3 days). And children 12 and under are admitted free.
Friday seminar speakers include Josh Borovsky, Larry Dahlberg and Luke Ronnestrand.
Speakers on Saturday are Bob Mehsikomer, Rich Reinert, Steve Worral and Gregg Thomas.
And Sunday, Joe Peterson and Duff Thury, Bob Benson and Dustin Carlson and Mike Keyes will speak.
Anglers can also prepare their reels for the upcoming season at the Expo. Shimano will be offering its Reel Maintenance Clinics Friday at 2:30, 5 and 7; Saturday at 11a.m., 3 and 5, and individual support until 1 p.m. Sunday. Bring a reel to the show and learn proper cleaning tips.
More information is at www.minnesotamuskieexpo.com