Nature Noted

Notes on a changing Nature

Location: Bellville, Texas, United States

I never would have predicted this one

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Here come the Audits

Here's one way to crack down on conservation easement cheaters. Catch 'em. South Carolina and the IRS have begun audits on conservation easement deductions claimed in that state. A spot check so far is showing signs of widespread inflated assessments.
" Burnie Maybank, director of the S.C. Department of Revenue, said he believes some S.C. developers are writing off swamp and marsh where homes could never be built — or claiming land values equivalent to those of the nation’s best real estate. The department recently completed an audit of 51 conservation easements, a total of 32,000 acres, donated over a three-year period. It found that property owners had estimated a value of $255 million on donated land, though not all of that value was claimed on tax returns. By comparison, the state collected about $420 million in corporate taxes over that period. “We were shocked by the amount of money” involved, Maybank said. Spend some money enforcing audits on cheaters, and the number of illegitimate deductions will drop.
In non-easement news, The Nature Conservancy and the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service" will formally announce Monday a nationwide collaboration on natural resource based projects. The announcement will be made near Emiquon, which has been TNC's pilot project to return the Illinois river floodplain to its natural state. The USDA will contribute $10.7 million towards the project. Once upon a time Emiquon was an area so rich in natural wildlife that the ducks needed an avian version of air traffic control to be able to take off from the lake. The area had been drained by a series of canals for farmland. But now the farms are mostly gone, and TNC and the government have been working to make Emiquon a large scale experiment in conversion back to nature.


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