CARES ACT Changes to Charitable Giving

HCT Members & Friends:

The COVID 19 Stimulus Package, also known as the CARES Act contained language that impacts the way your charitable contributions to the organizations you care about are rewarded by the IRS.

To highlight a few of these changes:

The adjusted gross income (AGI) limit for cash donations was increased for individuals. In 2020, cash contributions may be deducted up to 100 percent of your AGI (increased from 60 percent).

If you’re between 59½ years old and 70½ years old, benefits similar to a QCD (Qualified Charitable Distribution) are now available; you can take a cash distribution from your IRA, contribute the cash to charity, and this may completely offset tax attributable to the distribution by taking a charitable deduction in an amount up to 100 percent of their AGI for the tax year.

If you are over 70.5 years, you might also consider the tax benefit of making a donation directly from an IRA or 401(k) account. The IRS allows these direct donations to be tax-free withdrawals from the account. In addition, you can take a deduction up to $300 (if you do not itemize) and up to $100,000 (if you itemize) subject to certain income limits. By using the retirement assets, one gets a double benefit, avoidance of ordinary income tax on the withdrawal, and a tax deduction up to the applicable limits. If it’s not retirement assets, you are donating with post-tax earned dollars.

(Please note this information is not intended as legal or tax advice. Please consult your legal or tax advisor for application to your own situation.)

For further information, please see:

https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/how-the-cares-act-changes-deducting-charitable-contributions

https://www.fidelitycharitable.org/articles/what-the-cares-act-means-for-charitable-giving.html

https://wish.org/stimulus

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

Review: 2020 Annual Meeting

For those who may have missed it, the 2020 Annual Meeting was one of the best attended anyone can remember. Nearly 70 individuals joined our Zoom meeting, and all learned something new about how mycorrhizal relationships work, how trees share, and how fungal species establish relationships with plants while avoiding other fungus. We also learned how all of the preceding three statements are all referencing the same wood-wide web! Dr. Susan Goldhor, of the Boston Mycological Club has left us all with a better understanding and appreciation of the many ecological processes taking place right under our feet that we cannot see. Dr. Goldhor recommended two books for those who are interested in learning more: The Hidden Forest and Mycorrhizal Planet. For younger audiences, our Executive Director Brian Colleran also recommends the Trees installment of the Science Comics series. In the meantime however, please enjoy a favorite Ted Talk of Dr. Goldhor’s, or Dr. Goldgor herself in the videos below.

Thank you for making the 2020 Annual Meeting a success!

 

 

Annual Meeting

The Harvard Conservation Trust’s Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 18th at 7:00 pm, and we invite you to join us. Our invited speaker this year is President of the Boston Mycological Club, Susan Goldhor. She will speak to us about fungi, conservation, and the ways in which they are related. Ms. Goldhor will begin speaking at about 7:30 pm, following the completion of the required Trust business.

This year’s highlights will include a review of a very busy year in land protection with a video tour of some recent successes, the introduction of HCT’s new Executive Director, Brian Colleran, and a significant change in Board composition. Matt Cronin, David Burney, Shannon Kelley, Lynn Thronton have all agreed to take part in Harvard’s Land Conservation Tradition. We sincerely thank Chris Candon, Tom Cotton, Trish Hurter, & Marc Sevigny who have completed this phase of their contributions to Harvard’s Lands, and we look forward to having them as valuable members of the Trust Community for many years to come.

If you would like to attend this year’s meeting, please register using this link. Once registered, we will send you an agenda for the evening closer to the 18th.

HCT Welcomes a New Executive Director

The Harvard Conservation Trust is excited to introduce our new executive director; Brian Colleran.

Brian has a long history of working to support the health of the land and its natural communities.  His previous experience spans public, private, and non-profit sectors and his technical expertise is in ecological restoration, with an emphasis on the climate resiliency implications of invasive species ecology and management along waterways.  Brian is also well-acquainted with conservation concerns surrounding the “sprawl frontier”, having worked as Ayer’s Conservation Agent, where he identified strategies to consolidate and utilize nearly five decades of wetland permitting data and created a geospatial database of all issues that had ever come before the Commission.

As Executive Director, Brian will help to further HCT’s role in preserving Harvard’s ecological health and increasing our landscape’s resilience to climate change vulnerability by focusing on linking parcels to create pathways aimed at increasing ecological connectivity and resiliency; and actively supporting existing and future agricultural land uses while increasing public engagement opportunities within our community.

Through his work as a wetland scientist and certified ecological restoration practitioner, Brian has raised awareness within communities of the connections between invasive species, climate resiliency, municipal planning, and ecological restoration, all relevant topics to the conservation and stewardship of Harvard’s unique landscape.  Brian lives with his wife and daughters in Newbury, MA.

We are thrilled to have Brian join HCT and help spearhead our ongoing mission to protect the unique character and natural resources of Harvard.

Thank You for a Job Well Done

After six years of invaluable, behind the scenes service to the Trust, Julie Weigley has decided that the time has come to fully retire.  It’s the details and routines that make all the difference in keeping a small non-profit moving forward, and Julie has effortlessly kept HCT’s mailings, postings, and records organized and flowing smoothly.  Her even keel and know-how have steadied HCT through three Executive Director and Board President transitions.  We will certainly miss Julie’s gracious and easy-going presence, and cannot thank her enough for a job well done.  On behalf of all the Trustees, past and present– thank you, Julie!  We wish her all the best in this next phase of life.

Sudbury Valley Trustees and the Bolton Conservation Commission holding agricultural workshop in Bolton, 2/19/20 @ 7:30 PM

 
 

Open Space Residential Design Bylaw Workshop

Open Space Residential Design Workshop with Randall Arendt: An Event to Provide Information About the Open Space and Conservation Design Development Concept

Who:The Town of Harvard in conjunction with Mass Audubon and the Mass Smart Growth Alliance. Author and Planner Randall Arendt will be the keynote speaker.

What: A workshop that includes speakers talking about Open Space Residential Design from multiple perspectives, a design exercise, and a discussion of Harvard’s proposed new Open Space Residential Design Bylaw.

Where: The Town of Harvard Bromfield School Auditorium.

When: Thursday, February 6, 2020 from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm

For more info and to sign up:
https://www.harvard.ma.us/planning-board/pages/open-space-residential-design-osrd-bylaw

Tom Denney Nature Camp

 
 
Registration for the Bolton Conservation Trust Tom Denney Nature Camp Summer 2020 program opens February 1 at tdnc.boltonconservationtrust.org.

The camp is for students entering Kindergarten through High School. It is a unique camp experience that offers five weekly sessions of fun and learning in the beautiful natural setting of Bolton’s Bowers Springs conservation area. See further info below:
 
 

Annual Meeting: Tuesday, November 19th, 7:00 to 9:00 PM.

 
Come join us at HCT’s Annual Meeting, held on Tuesday, November 19th, at Volunteer Hall in the Harvard Public Library (4 Pond Road), 7:00 to 9:00 PM.
 

 
This year’s guest speaker will be Richard Higgins, author of Thoreau and the Language of Trees. Richard Higgins is a writer, editor, photographer and lecturer in Concord, Massachusetts. He was a staff reporter and editor for The Boston Globe for 20 years, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Christian Century, Esquire, and Smithsonian and many other publications. In this presentation drawn from the book, he explores Thoreau’s deep connections to trees through Thoreau’s words, photos of historic trees and his own images of trees today. Mr. Higgins will show how trees inspired Thoreau’s creativity as a writer, work as a naturalist, philosophical thought and spiritual life, and explain why Thoreau’s love of trees and wisdom about them speaks to us today.
 
The presentation will be followed by light refreshments, including homemade gingerbread, fresh apple cider, and good cheer. Bring a friend!

Explore Hermann Orchard: Sunday @ 1 PM, November 10, 2019