Blagojevich approves law that provides tax incentives to Illinois landowners


Many state and local governments have chosen to take land and environmental conservation into their own hands despite dwindling federal conservation programs and massive Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget cuts.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich recently signed into effect a new law that provides tax incentives to Illinois landowners willing to adhere to a conservation stewardship plan, and set aside parcels of undeveloped land such as woodlands, wetlands and prairies for conservation.

A minimum of five acres is required to enroll in the program. Approved lands will be evaluated annually to make sure they meet the standards outlined by their stewardship plans. These plans will be re-approved every 10 years.

“Prairies, wetlands and other undeveloped areas are some of our most precious resources,” Blagojevich was quoted as saying in a press release. “I am happy to sign this law that will encourage landowners to protect these valuable native lands.”

With our nation’s ever-growing dependency on ethanol production, is it in the best interest of landowners in areas such as DeKalb and Sycamore to set aside valuable land that could be used for growing corn and increasing potential income?

Bob and Joy Brust, along with many other local farmers and landowners, think so.

“It would be worth it in the long run,” Joy said. “You have to think about the future; this is the prairie state.”

The hope is that landowners will see the value in preserving these native lands, rather than converting them into crop fields.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources will help landowners provide enhanced wildlife habitats and maintain their newly conserved land.

Despite possible moral issues presented by offering incentives for conservation, Allison Sacerdote, president of NIU’s Committee For The Preservation of Wildlife, remains optimistic,

“Realistically, property owners will often cater to whichever land use provides them with the highest valued property. Offering incentives for putting land into conservation not only helps wildlife and gives landowners some money for it, but it increases the property value of neighboring properties,” Sacerdote said.

“This strategy will improve public attitudes toward the idea of land conservation. If people do not appreciate natural environments for their intrinsic values, then this may at least persuade people that undeveloped land has worth.”