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Media inquiries: Please contact Julie Buchanan, julie.buchanan@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-2292.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: February 11, 2004
Contact: Gary Waugh, DCR Public Relations Manager, (804) 786-5045, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov

Protect open space, Chesapeake Bay health with tax dollars

(RICHMOND, VA) - Virginians can help conserve open space land and clean pollution from the Chesapeake Bay when completing their tax returns by contributing any or all of their tax refund to funds set up solely for those purposes.

The Open Space Conservation Fund and the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund are "tax check-offs"; contributions to either fund are deductible next year. See page two, line 28, of Virginia tax return form 760.

Money designated for the open space fund goes to Virginia localities to acquire land for outdoor recreation. The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation uses part of the money to purchase and protect the state's most significant natural areas. These areas support some of the rarest species and significant natural communities in the state, and are accessible for hiking, nature study and learning about the environment. For more information on this fund, see DCR's website at www.dcr.virginia.gov; click "You can help."

Bay restoration fund contributions are spent to prevent water pollution and soil erosion. Conservation projects improve bay and Virginia tributaries such as the James, York, Rappahannock, Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, plus the state's eastern coastal waters.

"Virginians remain deeply concerned about the protection of open space, which they feel is important to the Commonwealth's heritage and to the quality of life they enjoy," said Joseph H. Maroon, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) director. "The tax check-off also offers an easy and direct way to contribute to the Chesapeake Bay clean-up, which is also vital to the region's economy and tourism."

When filing returns taxpayers can designate voluntary contributions on line 26 of Schedule ADJ, which goes with the tax return form. To choose the "Open Space Conservation and Recreation Fund," write in code numbers 6-8. To choose the "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund," write in code numbers 7-1.

People may actually contribute more than their refund amount, or they can contribute even if they owe a payment. Consult the instructions for more detail.

Virginia has another Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund; the purchase of license plates featuring a crab generates money that is used for conservation or education projects relating to the bay and its watershed. The state's legislative services office manages the fund, with help from DCR.

For questions relating to tax check-offs, contact the Virginia Department of Taxation at (804) 367-8031 or online at www.tax.state.va.us. Call the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation toll-free at 877-42WATER for open space land conservation and Chesapeake Bay restoration information.

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