By wedding commerce to conservation, a pending land deal in West Virginia’s Canaan Valley could signal a radical shift in land preservation strategy. Allegheny Energy, Inc., plans to sell 12,000 acres to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will incorporate the land into the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. The twist? Allegheny had the land appraised by GreenVest, an ecological resources management company, which assigned a dollar value to the land’s natural assets, such as its capacity to mitigate global climate change and its potential to be restored as wetlands. Although the company will sell the land to USFW for its normal market value — estimated at about $16 million — it will report the land’s value to the IRS as more than twice that. If the IRS okays the reporting, Allegheny will be able to claim a whopping charitable contribution and save itself millions in taxes. Many greens hail the new calculus as a boon to the environment, but others fear the tactic will drive land prices above what conservation organizations can afford to pay.