New Land Trust leaders announced
The New River Land Trust has elected a native of Floyd County with seven generations of county farmers in her heritage as its new board president. Ann-Margaret Shortt brings a history of community activities and service with her to her new position, including serving recently on Floyd County’s Agriculture and Forestry Viability Taskforce.
James Newlin also of Floyd County joins Shortt as vice president of the board. Newlin worked in budgeting and public policy, including natural resource issues, for the North Carolina legislature for over 30 years. He moved to Floyd in 2009, fulfilling a lifelong dream to live in the mountains. He is also serving on Floyd County’s taskforce addressing land use policies.
Kathye Johnston of Blacksburg will serve as the board’s treasurer. She brings with her 31 years of expertise in financial management, including financial positions at Virginia Tech, the University of Minnesota, and Georgia State University, where she retired as Vice President for Finance and Administration.
The New River Land Trust is a land conservation organization that in its 10-year history has helped 210 farmers and landowners conserve over 43,000 acres of farmland and forest and over 21 miles of lands along the New River’s course. In 2013, the Land Trust will be focusing its efforts on expanding the scope and quality of land conservation in the New River region.
The New River Land Trust’s mission is to conserve rural land, and the Floyd County task forces are focused on protecting the rural character and natural resources the make the county a special place for longtime residents as well as newcomers. As a Floyd native, Shortt has seen many changes in Floyd. “Farmers and landowners might want and hope to keep the land as farms or as undeveloped open spaces, but the only way to make sure is take the steps now to conserve and preserve it.”
Shortt has been active in Floyd County civic life as a member of the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library Board of Directors. She has been a board member for Floyd County Social Services and for the Old Church Gallery and History Museum in Floyd County. Shortt brings to her position as board president experience as an interpretive ranger with the National Park Service in Virginia during the 1980s. She has also worked as a deputy clerk in Floyd County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
Newlin, while employed at the North Carolina legislature, assisted policymakers in the areas of education, transportation, and natural resources. “Living in a rapidly urbanizing area of North Carolina, I understand the need to preserve our natural areas, protect watersheds, and preserve agricultural lands for future generations. I hope to work on those areas with the New River Land Trust.”
Johnston, the new board treasurer, retired in 2004 after a career of 31 years in financial management, both in higher education and private industry. She began her career as a high school mathematics teacher, then moved on to become a financial analyst for Ford Motor Company.
Over a 25-year span, she held financial positions at three universities: Virginia Tech,the University of Minnesota, and Georgia State University. She served as the chief financial officer at the Academic Health Center at Minnesota and as vice president for finance and administration at Georgia State University. In retirement, she works part-time as a consultant specializing in grant and proposal writing and resource management analysis. She has extensive consulting experience in areas such as strategic planning.
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Congress’ “fiscal cliff” deal has renewed a significant tax incentive for working farmers and landowners who want to conserve their land with a voluntary conservation agreement. The incentive, which had expired at the end of 2011, had helped the New River Land Trust work with 140 landowners to conserve more than 30,000 acres of productive farms, forests and wildlife habitat throughout the New River region between 2006 and 2011.
Conservation-minded landowners now have until December 31, 2013 to take advantage of a significant federal tax deduction for donating a voluntary conservation agreement to permanently protect important natural or historic resources on their land. In addition, landowners receive a generous Virginia tax credit that can be sold for cash for conserving their farms and forests.
The enhanced incentive applies to a landowner’s federal income tax. It raises the tax deduction a donor can take for donating a voluntary conservation agreement from 30 percent of their income in any year to 50 percent; it allows farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their income; and it increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from 6 to 16 years.
When landowners work with the New River Land Trust and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation to donate a conservation easement, they maintain ownership and management of their land, while foregoing future development rights. They can sell their land or pass the land on to their heirs, confident that the conservation restrictions will permanently protect their farm or mountainside.
In the coming months, New River Land Trust Executive Director John Eustis will be working with several landowners who are considering conservation easements for their family farms but have been waiting to see if Congress would extend the enhanced tax incentives that particularly benefit full-time farmers.
“Our whole community wins when thoughtful landowners conserve their land this way, protecting wildlife habitat, clean drinking water, scenic landscapes, recreational spaces, and productive agricultural lands,” said Eustis.
Conservation agreements have become an important tool nationally for protecting our watersheds, farms and forests, increasing the pace of private land conservation by a third – to over a million acres a year.”
Landowners interested in finding out more about how they can take advantage of this tax incentive and conserve their farmland, forests, river frontage and wildlife habitat can contact Eustis at 540.951.1704 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The enhanced federal tax deduction can provide years of reduced federal taxes – or eliminate federal taxes for many years – for local landowners whether they are farmers or not.
According to the Land Trust Alliance, the national organization that provides a voice for land trusts, bills to make this incentive permanent had 311 House and 28 Senate co-sponsors from 47 states, including majorities of Democrats and Republicans in the House. This legislation is also supported by more than 65 national agricultural, sportsmen’s, and conservation organizations.
To learn more about the enhanced incentive visit: New River Land Trust.org or www.lta.org/easementincentive.
– Submitted by New River Land Trust
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