Sustainable Ranges Initiative

Open Space/Conservation Money

Allocation of state resources for open space/conservation such as acquisition or conservation easements for restoration and preservation of historical and cultural resources, open space; farmland and land protection projects.



California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002

California Public Resources Code ß 5096.10(d) (Proposition 40, 2002) authorizes the issuance of bonds for ” acquisition, restoration, preservation, and interpretation of California’s historical and cultural resources.” The Resources Agency December 2003 publication, “Summary of Programs in Proposition 40” states that eligible recipients include “public agencies, nonprofits and tribal organizations” and one of the categories for an eligible project to preserve and demonstrate military history, including the industries, technologies, and commercial activities that have characterized California’s economic expansion and California’s contribution to national defense.”

Agricultural Land Conservation

Most recent Agricultural Land Conservation bills (SB 1864, 2002 and SB 275, 1995) provide for The California Farmland Conservancy Program which “provides grant funding for projects which use and support agricultural conservation easements for protection of agricultural lands.”

Senate Bill No. 275 1995


Environmental Land Acquisition

Florida has had an aggressive land acquisition program since 1964. In 1999, the Legislature passed Florida Forever, a ten-year, $3 billion program which is the largest conservation program in the country. This program acquires valuable conservation land which includes many lands adjacent to or near military installations. To date the state has invested approximately $700 million to acquire 500,000 acres of lands that will also benefit military installations. One of the biggest military encroachment buffering projects is the Northwest Florida Greenway. This project hopes to establish a conservation corridor 5 to 10 miles wide and 100 miles long, running from the eastern boundary of Eglin AFB to the Apalachicola National Forest. The proposed routing follows the paths used by the military for test and training over flights between the regions gulf and land ranges and the migration routes of the Florida Black Bear.


Illinois Conservation Foundation

Illinois Conservation Foundation “established by law in 1994, has raised nearly $10 million to support worthwhile projects and programs to benefit people today and in future generations.”

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

  • Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program was created in 1998 “through an agreement with the State of Illinois and the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to reduce sediment and nutrient content while enhancing wildlife habitats for threatened and endangered species in the Illinois River Watershed.”

Illinois Department of Natural Resources

  • The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is “charged with protecting, conserving and managing the State’s natural resources” and is developing its Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan.


State Tax Credit for Contributions to Qualified Endowment
Mont. Code Ann. ß 15-30-161, 15-30-166 and 15-30-167 enacted in 1997 and modified several times with the last bill, HB 616, 2003. This provides that a taxpayer can obtain a tax credit up to $10,000 annually against taxes owed in “an amount equal to 40% of the present value of the aggregate amount of the charitable gift portion of a planned gift made by the taxpayer during the year to any qualified endowment.” A corporation is allowed a tax credit up to $10,000 annually “in an amount equal to 20% of a charitable gift against the taxes otherwise due” for charitable contributions to a qualified endowment.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program

New Hampshire RSA chapter 227-M, ( SB 401, 2000) established the New Hampshire Land and Community Heritage Investment Program. The purpose of this program is to conserve and preserve New Hampshire’s “most important natural, cultural, and historic resources through the acquisition of lands, and cultural and historic resources, or interests therein” in partnership with the local jurisdictions and the private sector. To date this program has made over 110 grants to protect over 200,000 acres of land and to rehabilitate and protect over 80 historic structures with $16.5 million from the legislature which has been leveraged with other funding.

New Mexico

Land Conservation Incentives Act
N.M. Stat. Ann. ß75-9-1 through 75-9-6, 7-2-18.10, 7-2A-8.9(SB 581, 2003) provide for a tax credit up to $100,000 against income tax liability for donating conservation easements.

  • If the credit exceeds the tax liability amount in a year then the unused credit may be “carried over for a maximum of twenty consecutive taxable years.”
  • Permits one tax credit claim per taxpayer per year.
  • Amount is “equal to fifty percent of the fair market value of land or interest in land that is conveyed.”
  • Qualified donations include:
    • Land conveyed as an unconditional donation in perpetuity to a “public or private conservation agency eligible to hold the land and interests therein for conservation or preservation purposes” for the purpose of:
      • open space,
      • natural resource or biodiversity conservation,
      • agricultural, watershed or historic preservation
    • “conveyance in perpetuity of a fee interest in real property or less-than-fee interest in real property” such as:
      • A conservation, preservation, agricultural preservation or watershed preservation restriction

North Carolina

Funding for Land Acquisition or Conservation Easements Near Military Bases

HB 1264, 2004 authorizes borrowing up to $25 million for expansion of state parks and $20 million to acquire “by conservation easement or fee simple up to 17,000 acres near North Carolina military bases in order to prevent encroachment by incompatible development.” The maximum amount that may be spent for military base preservation by July 1, 2005 is $12 million. The bill also states that this “acquisition shall be a high priority because of its vital importance to the State of North Carolina.”


Conservation Fund
The legislature approved HJR 15, 2000 which placed a ballot issue before the voters regarding Conservation Funding. This issue, approved by 57.4% to 42.6%, authorized the issuance of up to $400 million in bonds for land and water conservation and revitalization. The legislature in 2001, passed H.B.3, which established procedures for the issuance of the bonds and set forth the distribution of the general obligation bonds to be deposited as follows:

  • 75% to the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund (grants for natural resources and parks and recreation)
  • 12.5% to the Clean Ohio Trail Fund (grants for recreational trails)
  • 12.5% to the Clean Ohio Agricultural Easement Fund (preservation of farmland)

Ohio EPA

Rhode Island

Open Space, Recreation, Bay and Watershed Protection Bond
In 2004, the legislature approved Article 5 to H 8219 (Chapter 595) which submits a bond referendum to voters on the November ballot. If approved, $70 million will be available for such items as open space, farmland preservation, recreation programs, groundwater protection and watershed restoration.

South Carolina

South Carolina Conservation Bank Act

South Carolina’s S.C.Code ß 48-59-140 (S. 297, 2002) establishes the South Carolina Conservation Bank and its 12 member board. Funding to the board is provided through deed recording fees. Provides conservation and financial criteria to assist in the acquisition of land or conservation easements that conserve such items as open space, farmland, wildlife habitat, rare or endangered species. It is anticipated that this fund will provide approximately $10 million dollars a year.

South Carolina’s S.C.Code 48-59-140 (S. 297, 2002)


Office of Farmland Preservation

Virginia’s Va. Code ß 3.1-18.9 – 3.1-18.12 (S1160, 2001) establishes the Office of Farmland Preservation (continued from the Agricultural Vitality Program) and the Virginia Farm Link program. The Office is to develop “model policies and practices that may be used as a guide to establish local purchase of development rights programs” along with criteria and sources of funds in cooperation with:

  • Department of Business Assistance,
  • Virginia Farm Bureau Federation,
  • American Farmland Trust,
  • Virginia Land Conservation Foundation,
  • Virginia Outdoors Foundation,
  • Virginia Association of Counties and the
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension

Once a year, the Commissioner shall submit a report to the legislature.


Agricultural Conservation Easements Program
Wash. Rev. Code ß 89.08.530 and 89.08.540 (SHB 2758, 2002) creates the agricultural conservation easements program. The state conservation commission shall manage this program and report to the Legislature on funding issues.



Conservation Efforts

  • The Colorado Division of Wildlife is preparing its Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy plan.

Great Outdoors Colorado

  • Great Outdoors Colorado has made grants totaling more than $288 million for 1,700 projects since 1994. These funds are used for protecting open space, land protection projects, outdoor recreation and wildlife projects. Funding is provided through the Great Outdoors Colorado Constitutional Amendment that voters approved in 2 which appropriates lottery proceeds.


Conservation Efforts

The Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund was established in 1988 to “provide permanent and steady funding for parkland and park facilities statewide.” The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Parks and Recreation administers the $1.5 million in Trust income that is awarded annually in grants. Half of the grant money is available for park acquisition and development projects and the remaining amount is to support new and existing greenway and trail projects.


Conservation Efforts

  • The “Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund conserves wildlife and open spaces through the sale of instant Lottery tickets.” This fund represents approximately $1.5 million which is used for fishery, endangered species, land acquisition and law enforcement grants.
  • In 1987 and 1999, voters approved $35 and $50 million in bonds to support the Land for Maine’s Future Program. This program mission is to conserve land that has “exceptional natural or recreational value.” The program requires a matching fund and therefore is able to leverage their funds. To date, more than 139,000 aces have been acquired along with an additional 53,500 acres “protected through conservations easements.

Maine Outdoor Heritage Fund

Land for Maine’s Future


Conservation and Resource Protection
In 2002, voters approved ballot question #1 (AB 9, 2002) which authorized up to $200 million in general obligation bonds to be used by state agencies and local jurisdictions to “protect, preserve, and obtain the benefits of the property and natural resources” of Nevada

New Jersey

Open Space, Farmland and Historic Preservation Conservation

In 1998, voters approved Public Question No. 1 which dedicated $98 million each fiscal year for ten years for the “acquisition and development of lands for recreation and conservation purposes, for the preservation of farmland for agricultural or horticultural use and production, and for historic preservation.” In 1999, the Legislature adopted S9, the enabling legislation.


Green Acres Program

SENATE, No. 2752

New York

Conservation Efforts

  • The Division of Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources is working on their Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Plan.
  • In 1993, the New York State Environmental Protected Fund was established to provide “mechanisms for open space conservation and land acquisition.” This is funded from a portion of revenue from the New York State Bluebird License Plate.

North Carolina

North Carolina Conservation Efforts

  • North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources provides information on the state’s Conservation Tax Credit Program which is to “assist land-owners to protect the environment and the quality of life.”
  • The Conservation Trust for North Carolina was created in 1991 and is “the only statewide land trust working with communities, landowners, land trusts, and other conservation organizations to protect North Carolina’s natural and cultural resources.”
  • In 2002, The North Carolina Department of Transportation acquired 2,500 acres of land that borders Ft. Bragg and establishes “a preserve for the federally-endangered red-cockaded woodpecker.” This land will be turned over to The Nature Conservancy for “long-term management, in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
  • Efforts are underway to develop North Carolina’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Plan.

The Conservation Trust for North Carolina

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Rhode Island

Comprehensive Efforts

  • Rhode Island’s Division of Fish and Wildlife is preparing the state’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Plan.
  • In 2000, voters approved $23.5 million for open space acquisition. This measure was referred by the legislature through Article 5 of H 7862 (Chapter 55, 2000).


Conservation Efforts

  • The Divisions of Land, Forestry, Water, and Enforcement and Science are preparing the state’s Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Plan.
  • In 1989, the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund was established by the Legislature. On an annual basis, the program has authority to spend $60 million, funded with general obligation bonds. To date, more than 250,000 acres have been protected. The program’s stewardship has five major components:
    • Land and easement acquisition for both conservation and recreation,
    • Local assistance grants that support “nature-based outdoor recreation,”
    • Property development on state lands,
    • Conservation of Baraboo Hills and
    • Acquisition of blufflands along the Great Lakes.