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Virginia Conservation Efforts Face Calls For Reform

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Conservation efforts have preserved areas like Grayson Highlands, but some charge that new efforts are hampered by a disorderly process.
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Conservation efforts have preserved areas like Grayson Highlands, but some charge that new efforts are hampered by a disorderly process.

About 15 percent of Virginia's total acreage has been permanently protected from future development, mainly due to the Land Preservation Tax Credit. Even so, members of the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission are looking for more effective ways to conserve Virginia land.

Virginia's preservation tax credits provide 40 percent of the land's fair market value in exchange for the property-owner's agreement to terminate development rights. That's capped at $100 million annually for everyone.

"Credits are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, not according to the priority of the land that's being conserved or to its conservation benefits," says JLARC project leader Jamie Bitz. He says that approach limits both public access and funds for other priorities.

Delegate Bobby Orrock suggested keeping the cap, but reallocating a portion to grants.

"Saying we've got two separate pots, whether a 60-40 split, 30-70, however you want to look at it, but the 60-70 percent of this pot of money will go to priority lands."

Other funding options include a state park fee surcharge and increasing recordation or grantors taxes.

NPR

Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.
NPR

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.
WAMU 88.5

America's First Ladies

They walk a tricky line: closest adviser to the President of the United States and hostess in chief. A new book examines the evolution of the role of first lady of the United States.

WAMU 88.5

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Last week, the D.C. Council voted to designate e-cigarettes and "similar vapor products containing nicotine" as tobacco products. That means that their sales tax will jump from the regular 5.75% sales tax to the 70% tax that's tacked onto sales of products like cigarettes and cigars. We explore what this means for the evolving public health debate surrounding e-cigarettes.

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