As one-third of animal and plant species face extinction nationwide, Virginia taxpayers have a chance to help the commonwealth make a difference.
This tax season, those who are passionate about biodiversity conservation and outdoor recreation may contribute to the Open Space Recreation and Conservation Fund by donating all, or a portion of, their 2023 state tax refunds.
A whopping 34% of plants and 40% of animals in the United States are at risk of disappearing, according to a 2023 report by NatureServe. Forty-one percent of ecosystems are at risk of range-wide collapse.
The Department of Conservation and Recreation, the state’s lead natural resource conservation agency, manages the fund to support biodiversity conservation and expand and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities. The agency works to protect Virginia’s native plant and animal life and their ecosystems.
Half of the fund generated by the state individual income tax check-off program is used to buy land for conservation and recreation, including the Virginia Natural Area Preserve System. More than 20 natural area preserves across the state offer public access for hiking, water access, bird-watching, nature photography and other low-impact recreation opportunities.
The other half is used for outdoor recreation grants to localities for projects that increase access to safe open space in Virginia’s communities, including the Trail Access Grants program, which funds projects that increase access to trail opportunities for people with disabilities.
To choose the Open Space Recreation and Conservation Fund, enter Code Number 68 on Schedule VAC (Virginia Contributions Schedule), Section II (Other Voluntary Contributions). This form accompanies the state individual tax return Form 760.