March 27, 2013. Hundreds of land conservationists rallied at the North Carolina General Assembly today, meeting with senators and representatives to tell them the importance of investing in land conservation for North Carolina’s future.
The conservation supporters asked legislators to appropriate funds to maintain clean water, to conserve land, to protect family farms, to improve local and state parks and provide beach access. Governor McCrory’s budget would cut conservation funding in half and permanently remove the dedicated source of funding. Protecting North Carolina’s natural resources is a constitutional requirement, but it’s also one of the most cost effective ways to attract and keep employers.
“We are calling on our elected officials to continue to invest in our state’s conservation trust funds,” said Katherine Skinner, executive director of the North Carolina Chapter of the Nature Conservancy. “The creation and consistent funding of land and water conservation have been the result of bipartisan leadership over the last 25 years. These trust funds support some of the state’s largest industries including agriculture, tourism, the military, and hunting and fishing.”
- Land for Tomorrow is calling on legislators to:
- Appropriate $20 million to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and make the funding recurring.
- Preserve the dedicated revenue from the Deed Stamp Tax to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and Natural Heritage Trust Fund, and oppose any diversions to the general fund.
- Maintain the NC Conservation Tax Credit program.
- Funding the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund at $2 million per year.
Land conservation is a major economic driver. It supports farming, tourism and outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. The Outdoor Recreation industry stated outdoor activities contributed $19 billion to North Carolina last year, supported 192,000 jobs, and paid $1.3 billion in local and state taxes.
“While Governor McCrory was mayor of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County received more than $17 million from the state’s conservation trust funds,” said Tim Gestwicki, CEO of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “Most of the money came from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. His budget is wrong to cut conservation funding, and we will work with legislators to ensure our sons and daughters can enjoy the same natural wonders tomorrow that we enjoy today.”
Conservation is one of the most cost-effective ways to promote economic development in all parts of North Carolina. A study by the Trust for Public Land found every dollar invested in land conservation yields $4 in returns in terms of natural goods and services such as clean air, clean water, and flood protection. Protecting land around the state’s military bases insulates them from future threats of being closed. Protecting waterways provides clean drinking water for our children and grandchildren. Expanding and creating state parks provide the most affordable tourist attractions in the state.
The city of Eden in Rockingham County used a grant from the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund to build Freedom Park. The park includes a playground, softball field and nature trails. Since 2005, it hosts four weeklong Dixie Youth Baseball Tournaments.
“It has turned into the premier parks and recreation facility in all of Rockingham County,” said Johnny Farmer, Eden Director of Parks and Recreation. “Residents use it on a daily basis. And it is an economic tool for us because we are able to have tournaments there from March to November.”
About Land for Tomorrow:
Land for Tomorrow is a coalition of conservation, agriculture, wildlife, hunting and fishing groups along with businesses, local governments and concerned citizens. Its goal is to increase land and water conservation by boosting funding for the state’s four conservation trust funds – Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF), Natural Heritage Trust Fund (NHTF), Parks and Recreation Trust Fund (PARTF) and the Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund (ADFPTF). Funding for these trusts is controlled by the North Carolina General Assembly.
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