From Nebraska Game and Parks Commission
-- Tax season provides a unique opportunity for Nebraskans to contribute to wildlife and habitat conservation. Line 41 on the 2007 state income tax form (Form 1040N) allows individuals to donate all or a part of their tax refund to the Wildlife Conservation Fund, which is used to manage the state's nongame and endangered species.
"The check-off is the principal source of state funding used to conserve more than 98 percent of fish and wildlife species that are considered nongame," said Mark Humpert, wildlife diversity program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Last year, 11,464 tax filers contributed $79,254 through the check-off program.
This was an increase of more than $10,000 from the previous year and the highest amount since 1998. The average donation of $6.91 was the highest since inception of the program in 1984. Contributions funded a variety of conservation projects, including research on river otters, restoration of tall grass prairie and educational programs such as Project WILD.
In the last few years Congress has increased grant funding to states for nongame conservation. Most federal grants require a state contribution of up to 50 percent in matching funds.
"The need for tax check-off funds has never been higher and their value has never been stretched further,'' Humpert said. "Without sources of matching funds like the check-off, we would be unable to use some types of federal grants."
The tax check-off also is an important funding source for implementation of Nebraska's Natural Legacy Plan. This plan was developed to proactively conserve wildlife before they become rare and more costly to protect. More than 20 conservation and agricultural organizations collaborated on the plan and a coalition of 236 Nebraska organizations/businesses are supporting funding for implementation through the Teaming With Wildlife coalition.
Taxpayers should look for the peregrine falcon symbol on Line 41 near the bottom of the second page of Form 1040N to make a contribution. For those taxpayers not entitled to a state tax refund, contributions can be made via the Commission's secure website at www.OutdoorNebraska.org or by mail to The Nongame and Endangered Species Fund, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, P.O. Box 30370, Lincoln, NE 68503-0370.