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Thursday, August 31, 2006

The conservation of the National Parks: It's Bush's fault 


On page A16 of today's New York Times, we learn that the Bush administration has decided to sacrifice the environment on the alter of big business. Not.

Ending a yearlong debate over its management and guiding philosophy, the National Park Service is about to adopt a policy emphasizing conservation of natural and cultural resources over recreation when they are in conflict. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne is expected to announce the new policy on Thursday.

The new regulations on park management give barely a nod to most of the concerns of the recreation industry and its Congressional champion, Representative Steve Pearce, Republican of New Mexico.

Thought experiment time: If the decision had gone the other way, would the Times have run the story a little closer to the front than page A16?

BONUS: GreenmanTim asks in the comments whether this might be part of a pattern:
Not having a paid subscription to the NYT, nor yet a regular reader, I cannot comment on this particular article, but would pose a test. How did the paper cover the August 17th signing of the new Pension Act? Any mention of the extremely positive incentives for donating conservation easements it contains(notwithstanding that they sunset in two years)? We in the land protection game are feeling pretty good about it - good enough for some of us to give CWCID to folks with whom we often are at odds politically. But we seem to be the only ones highlighting this aspect of the 900 page bill - after all, it's one of our core issues. Did the NYT cover it, and if not, do you suppose it was because they didn't catch it in those 900 pages or because, well, they'd have to acknowledge Senator Rick Santorum, as I felt in all fairness I should do on my blog, for his indispensible support in passing these conservation incentives? Doesn't mean I hope he gets reelected, but still...

I admit, Tim's post on the new conservation easement provisions is the first I've read on the topic.
The language of the August 17th Pension Bill raises the federal income tax deduction a landowner can take in any given year for donating a permanent conservation easement from 30% to 50% of their income (100% of their income for qualifying farmers and ranchers who donate agricultural easements), and extends the carry forward period for an easement owner to tax deductions from 5 to 15 years. This incentive means that there may be better economic outcomes for more willing easement donors than an outright sale of their land for development. It also means that land trusts and conservation organizations who cannot compete toe to toe in the open market with real estate developers have something of real, tangible value to offer that developers cannot: the ability to preserve a legacy on land you still own and a better bottom line for the landowner than a full fair market value sale.

Did the press bury an important victory for the environment because it doesn't want to give Rick Santorum favorable publicity? Say it ain't so!

2 Comments:

By Blogger GreenmanTim, at Thu Aug 31, 09:33:00 PM:

Not having a paid subscription to the NYT, nor yet a regular reader, I cannot comment on this particular article, but would pose a test. How did the paper cover the August 17th signing of the new Pension Act? Any mention of the extremely positive incentives for donating conservation easements it contains(notwithstanding that they sunset in two years)? We in the land protection game are feeling pretty good about it - good enough for some of us to give CWCID to folks with whom we often are at odds politically. But we seem to be the only ones highlighting this aspect of the 900 page bill - after all, it's one of our core issues. Did the NYT cover it, and if not, do you suppose it was because they didn't catch it in those 900 pages or because, well, they'd have to acknowledge Senator Rick Santorum, as I felt in all fairness I should do on my blog, for his indispensible support in passing these conservation incentives? Doesn't mean I hope he gets reelected, but still...  

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