California's population increases have long been a topic of discussion. By the year 2020, the population of California is projected to increase by a startling 24 percent! Of paramount concern is the question of how the population growth will affect California's rich farmlands, rangelands, open space, wildlife, plant resources, and available parklands.
The business of protecting and conserving California's natural resources is a complex endeavor; however, a common theme emerges when individuals, planners and elected officials convene to discuss land use policies and growth. Specifically, innovation and partnerships are critical.
Capitalizing on the opportunities and benefits that arise from integrating divergent interests and forming public/private partnerships, unique and innovative approaches to the protection and conservation of California's farm and ranch lands, natural resources and local economies have emerged. One such innovative solution is the Natural Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Act of 2000 (Public Resources Code Section 37000 et seq.) (the "Tax Credit Act").
This Program Information and Application Package reflects changes to the Natural Heritage Tax Credit Program (the "Tax Credit Program") necessary to implement the amendments to the Tax Credit Act that became effective on January 1, 2010.
The purpose of the Tax Credit Program is to protect wildlife habitat, parks and open space, archaeological resources, agricultural land and water by providing state tax credits for donations of qualified land (fee title or conservation easement) and water rights. The program objectives include the fostering of public/private partnerships to resolve land use and water disputes; assisting habitat stewardship; and demonstrating the state's commitment to protect natural resources by rewarding landowners who perceive habitat as an asset rather than a liability. Initially implemented in 2001, the Tax Credit Program is a successful effort that to date has resulted in the approval of $48.2 million in tax credits, and the donation and transfer of ownership of more than 7,967 acres of critical parkland, open space, agricultural conservation easements, wildlife corridors and archeological resources.
Responding to increased fiscal demands and pressure upon the General Fund, the Legislature suspended the Tax Credit Program in 2002. However, in recognition of the effectiveness of the program as a tool to leverage limited fiscal resources and protect critical land and water resources, the Tax Credit Act was amended and the Tax Credit Program reinstated effective January 1, 2005. Specifically the Tax Credit Act was amended by Chapter 226, Statutes of 2004 (SB 1100) which allows tax credits to be awarded until June 30, 2008, provided there is no net loss of revenue to the General Fund for tax credits awarded between July 1, 2002 and June 30, 2008. In addition, Chapter 715, Statutes of 2004 (AB 2722) provides a process to reimburse the General Fund for approved tax credits using eligible bond funds. Effective January 1, 2010, the program was once again authorized to approve donations and elligible tax credits until June 30, 2015.
Applications are accepted on a year-round basis. Applications that comply with the program requirements and eligibility criteria for qualified donations can be scheduled for Board consideration only after completion of the required local public hearing and approval of the appraisal by the Department of General Services as required by the Tax Credit Act. The Board generally meets four times per year, in February, May, August and November. Board staff will notify project proponents of the date a proposal is scheduled for consideration by the Board.
Call (916) 445-8448 with any questions prior to completing the application package.
Natural Heritage Tax Credit Program of 2000
Information and Application Package (January 2010 Update) (PDF)