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Media inquiries: Please contact Gary Waugh, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov, 804-786-5045.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: January 30, 2003
Contact: Gary Waugh, DCR Public Relations Manager, (804) 786-5045, gary.waugh@dcr.virginia.gov

Protect open space, bay's health with tax dollars

(RICHMOND) - The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation receives hundreds of calls each year from citizens who ask how they can improve the environment. The answers, of course, vary depending upon people's interests.

But there is one thing most citizens can easily do - and it's part of a process they do every year anyway. Virginia citizens can contribute directly to open space land conservation and restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay when completing their tax returns.

Schedule ADJ allows taxpayers to contribute any or all their tax refund to either the Open Space Conservation Fund or the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund. Taxpayers can actually contribute more than their refund, or they can still contribute if they owe a payment. Consult the instructions for more detail.

"The Chesapeake Bay is a natural asset close to the hearts of many Virginians, but maintaining its productivity comes with a price tag," said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources W. Tayloe Murphy Jr. "We are grateful to citizens who use this mechanism to show their support, and they can realize the benefit of a tax deduction next year."

Taxpayers should designate voluntary contributions on line 24 of Schedule ADJ, which accompanies the individual income tax return Form 760. To choose the "Open Space Conservation and Recreation Fund," write in the code numbers 6-8. To choose the "Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund," write in the code numbers 7-1.

"Contributions to both funds help preserve resources critical to the Commonwealth and to future generations," said Joseph H. Maroon, director of the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. "The November vote for the State Parks and Natural Areas Bond referendum - which passed by 69 percent - showed Virginians want to protect open space. This is another, easy way to support the importance of Virginia's natural resources."

Money designated for the Open Space Fund is used to acquire land for outdoor recreation within Virginia localities, in addition to the purchase and protection of the state's most significant natural areas. These areas support the greatest number of rare species and significant natural communities in the state, outside of national park and forest properties. The public can access natural areas to hike, study nature and learn about the environment.

Chesapeake Bay Restoration Fund contributions are spent only on conservation projects to improve bay and Virginia tributary resources. Recent examples include oyster reef and wetlands restoration.

Of course, Virginia taxpayers who don't receive refunds can still contribute to these funds. Contact the Virginia Department of Taxation at (804) 367-8031 or online at www.tax.state.va.us.
For questions about either contribution fund, call the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation at (804) 786-7961.

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