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Stones keyboardist donates Georgia preserve

/ Source: The Associated Press

Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Leavell has donated nearly 300 acres of his middle Georgia hunting preserve to the state as a conservation easement.

Leavell, a noted conservationist, is among the first residents to take advantage of a new land conservation tax credit. He said he hoped others would follow his lead to protect more of Georgia’s open space.

“We all know that Chinese proverb that every journey begins with a single step,” he said Monday at a press conference with Gov. Sonny Perdue. “We are so fortunate in this state to have such beautiful land.”

Landowners who place a conservation easement on their property give up the right to develop the land.

Perdue signed a law last April allowing private landowners and corporations to get income tax credits for preserving undeveloped property. There are six applicants so far. Rules governing the program were finalized in December, so officials expect more to apply.

The governor said Leavell’s donation shows how the program should work in Georgia, where “people who love the land would step forward with these kind of easements for all of us.”

Georgia is one of 12 states with a tax credit program for the donation of conservation easements or land. There is a separate federal credit.

The easement on Leavell’s Charlane Plantation will be held initially by The Conservation Fund and then transferred to the Georgia Forestry Commission.

His plantation near Macon is a model tree farm that raises Southern yellow pine for use in homes and paper products.

Leavell was appointed by Perdue to the Georgia Land Conservation Commission in 2001.