Un­founded crit­i­cism of Colorado’s con­ser­va­tion ease­ment tax credit

The Denver Post - - OPINION - Re: Kent Holsinger, Bill Schwartz,

“Tax cred­its are like tak­ing candy from a baby,” Dec. 14 Me­gan Schrader col­umn.

Me­gan Schrader’s crit­i­cism of tax cred­its for con­ser­va­tion ease­ments is un­founded. In ad­di­tion to wildlife habi­tat, Colorado’s in­no­va­tive con­ser­va­tion ease­ment pro­gram has pro­tected some of the state’s most iconic vis­tas and open spa­ces at a frac­tion of the cost of pur­chas­ing land. Schrader laments some land may be more valu­able than oth­ers. But Colorado is blessed with a di­ver­sity of habi­tat. From short­grass prairie to alpine for­est, all of these lands are im­por­tant and worth pre­serv­ing. The con­ser­va­tion ease­ment pro­gram is of­ten the last bas­tion be­tween pro­duc­tive land and de­vel­op­ment. Suc­ces­sive drought years nearly forced the sale of our his­toric fam­ily ranch. Thanks to a con­ser­va­tion ease­ment, it will re­main pro­duc­tive ranch land and wildlife habi­tat in per­pe­tu­ity. Tak­ing away this im­por­tant tool would jeop­ar­dize open space and harm Colorado’s agri­cul­tural her­itage, wildlife and com­mu­ni­ties.

Me­gan Schrader wrote that “in 16 years, the [con­ser­va­tion ease­ment] tax credit has cost the state al­most $1 bil­lion.” It has not. It would cost the state only if it were the state’s money. It is not. It is the tax­pay­ers’ money. What Schrader con­sid­ers a giveaway is ac­tu­ally al­low­ing the tax­pay­ers to keep more of what they have earned. This is true re­gard­less of the merit, or lack thereof, of the un­der­ly­ing pur­pose of the credit. Send letters of 150 words or fewer to open­fo­rum@den­ver­post.com or 101 W. Col­fax Ave., Suite 800, Denver, CO, 80202. Please in­clude full name, city and phone num­ber. Con­tact us at 303-954-1331.

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