December 06, 2006

Crapo sponsors legislation to recover endangered species on private lands

Looking forward to the next Congress, Crapo jump-starts legislation to provide tax credits for private conservation efforts

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo today introduced legislation to provide financial incentives for private landowners to help recover endangered species. The bill, the Endangered Species Recovery Act of 2006 (ESRA), S. 4087, is co-sponsored by Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Arkansas), Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Max Baucus (D-Montana). Widely supported by an environmental coalition of the National Wildlife Federation, the Defenders of Wildlife and Environmental Defense and private property owners such as the American Farm Bureau and the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association, this legislation is an important step in preserving endangered species while recognizing private property rights. "Protecting vulnerable species takes cooperation on many levels," said Crapo. "This legislation uses a formula that works - financial and procedural incentives for tangible results. Over eighty percent of endangered wildlife live on private property. By providing tax benefits for conservation efforts, this legislation encourages landowners to get involved in critical species recovery." Groups supporting Crapo's legislation include the American Farm Bureau; the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; the Defenders of Wildlife; Environmental Defense; the National Cattlemen's Beef Association; the National Stone, Sand, and Gravel Association; the National Wildlife Federation; and the Society of American Foresters. Key provisions of the bill will provide new tax credits for landowners who agree to put easements on their property or agree to restore, enhance or manage endangered species habitat on their land; expand tax deductions for any landowner who takes part in the recovery plans specified under the Endangered Species Act (ESA); and allow landowners to exclude from taxable income certain federal payments under cost-share conservation programs. Crapo has long been a proponent of effectively protecting endangered species. In December of 2005, Crapo also introduced the bipartisan Collaboration for the Recovery of the Endangered Species Act (CRESA), aimed at improving the ESA to ensure greater protection of endangered species. ESRA will be referred to the Senate Finance Committee, on which Crapo, Lincoln, Grassley and Baucus all sit; Baucus is the incoming chairman of the committee. Due to the approaching end of the 109th Congress, Crapo plans to re-introduce the bill in the 110th Congress. "This bill represents many hours of work by a large number of groups, and I could not let their efforts go unrecognized even though this session of Congress is nearly over," Crapo said. "Their support is vital and strong, and we will stand together on this legislation next month when a new Congress convenes."