Legislation for habitat conservation tax credits passes state Senate; sponsored by Little who represents eastern St. Law. County
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 - 11:35 am

The State Senate recently passed legislation sponsored by state Sen. Betty Little that would create a New York state tax credit for a portion of property taxes paid on privately held lands.

Little represents the 45th Senate district. It covers an area of southeast St. Lawrence County including Parishville, Lawrence, Clare, Colton, Hopkinton and Piercefield. It also encompasses Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Warren and Washington counties.

To receive the credit, the lands would have to be enrolled in a forestry stewardship or habitat conservation plan, Little said.

The bill is still in committee in the Assembly.

The tax credit would provide incentives for private forest landowners to keep their land from development and preserve the wild lands.

“Stewardship of privately owned land helps protect habitats important to many species,” Little said.

The refundable tax credit would be 25 percent of school, county and town property tax paid, capped at $10,000. Because New York state would pay the refund, there would be no cost to schools or municipalities. The estimated annual state fiscal impact is $3 million, according to Little.

To qualify for the credit, a landowner would apply to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Eligible property would be a tract of at least 25 contiguous acres that has been inspected by the DEC, a wildlife biologist certified by the The Wildlife Society or a fisheries biologist certified by the American Fisheries Society.

A written agreement between the landowner and DEC would describe how the property will be managed to preserve wildlife, fish, shellfish or crustacean habitat for at least five years, according to Little.

“It would be voluntary and managed in partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservation. The state fiscal impact is small and the local tax base would not be affected," Little said.