Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
Governor Fletcher to Seek Passage of Conservation Tax Credits Public Access Program
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Ernie Fletcher today announced that he will urge immediate adoption of land conservation and wildlife recreation laws encouraging private landowners to voluntarily provide public access to private property for fishing, hunting and wildlife recreation.
“This is a very high-impact, low-cost way to achieve a dramatic increase in land conservation and wildlife recreation access for hunting and fishing,” said Governor Fletcher, who was joined for the announcement by Sen. Gary Tapp (R-Waddy) and Rep. Robin Webb (D-Grayson).
The announcement was made at a gathering of conservation and sportsman’s organizations at the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ Salato Wildlife Education Center.
Under Governor Fletcher’s proposal, public recreational access would be guaranteed by conservation easements granted to individuals and businesses in exchange for state income tax credits to be awarded under the supervision of the department.
The legislation addresses Kentucky’s shortage of convenient and accessible land for hunting, fishing, hiking, bird-watching and nature viewing. In Kentucky, public land for fishing and wildlife recreation is limited, with approximately 94 percent of Kentucky land being privately owned.
This shortage is often cited as a reason for why these activities are limited or abandoned. The legislation is also intended to ensure that land for wildlife recreation will always be available in areas near urban centers.
“The professional work force we seek to attract in Kentucky wants high quality outdoor recreation areas where they live and work,” said Governor Fletcher. “Conservation and recreation lands are a critical public investment to satisfy these needs.”
Kentucky is losing about 130 acres each day of wildlife habitat, agricultural land and wildlife recreation opportunities to development. “Outdoor recreation benefits Kentucky and our communities,” said Governor Fletcher. “We must protect these for our children or they will be lost forever.”
The proposed legislation would permit land to remain in private ownership and management while providing tax credits based on the value and duration of the conservation easement. The credits will be capped at $3 million for applications received in the 2008 calendar year, $5 million in 2009, $7 million in 2010 and $10 million per year thereafter.
“This is a great piece of legislation that will expand opportunities for hunters, anglers and all others who enjoy wildlife across the state,” said Sen. Tapp.
“Access is one of the biggest issues facing sportsmen and sportswomen today,” said Rep. Webb. “This legislation will provide incentives for landowners to open their lands to nature enthusiasts everywhere. It will be an economic boost to rural communities and strengthen the ties between rural and urban communities.”
More than 1.5 million Kentuckians and about 287,000 nonresident visitors engage in hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing each year within Kentucky’s borders. This activity generates $3.2 billion in annual economic impact.
According to the 2001 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife Associated Recreation by Southwick Associates public land generates $197 per acre per year to Kentucky’s economy.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) manages, regulates, enforces and promotes responsible use of all fish and wildlife species, their habitats, public wildlife areas and waterways for the benefit of those resources and for public enjoyment. KDFWR, an agency of the Commerce Cabinet, has an economic impact to the state of $4.8 billion annually. For more information on KDFWR, visit our web site at fw.ky.gov.