Washington, D.C. -December 17, 2015- Leaders on Capitol Hill late Tuesday announced they had reached a year-end deal on a tax extenders bill and an omnibus spending bill, which would fund the government for FY16. Many provisions integral to conservation were included in both bills, which if passed could be a huge win for sportsmen, fishermen, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. To avoid another government shutdown, Congress is expected to act fast on this legislation - likely before the end of the year.
"On behalf of more than 1 million members and supporters of Ducks Unlimited - from all 50 states - we urge all members of the United States Congress to vote in favor of this major step forward for wildlife and natural resource conservation," said Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited. "Ensuring adequate resources are in place at the federal level guarantees Ducks Unlimited can continue our mission of conserving, restoring and managing wetlands and associated habitats for North America's waterfowl. These habitats also benefit other wildlife and people. We appreciate that both bills were a bipartisan effort and applaud Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid for their leadership and look forward to the President's signature."
Conservation provisions included in the omnibus bill:
- The North American Wetlands Conservation Fund was appropriated for $35,145,000.
- The interest from the investment of Pittman-Robertson funds is deposited into NAWCA for use annually. This provision was reauthorized for 10 years.
- The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was authorized for $300 million.
- The Land and Water Conservation Fund was authorized for three years at $900 million.
Conservation provisions included in the tax extenders bill:
- Enhanced incentive for donations of conservation easements was made permanent. The bill raises the maximum deduction a donor can take for donating a conservation easement from 30 percent of their adjusted gross income (AGI) in any year to 50 percent. It allows qualified farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100 percent of their AGI and it increases the number of years over which a donor can take deductions from six to 16 years.
- The IRA Charitable Rollover provision was made permanent and allows individuals who have reached age 70Â½ to donate up to $100,000 to charitable organizations directly from their Individual Retirement Account (IRA), without treating the distribution as taxable income.
This is an important first step in the legislative approval process. Next steps need to be taken, with votes in both chambers, before approval from the President.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 13 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/DucksUnlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/DucksUnlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/DucksUnlimitedInc.