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Land for Tomorrow supports the Senate’s budget for conservation
The Senate’s budget would provide more money for conservation than Gov. Pat McCrory’s
RALEIGH, N.C. – Land for Tomorrow, a statewide coalition that supports land and water conservation, supports the North Carolina Senate’s budget proposal. The proposal, released May 19, provides roughly level funding as the current year and more than doubles the conservation funding levels in Governor Pat McCrory’s recommended budget.
Land for Tomorrow supports the Senate’s proposed consolidation of two of the state’s four existing conservation trust funds (Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the Natural Heritage Trust Fund) into one, the Water and Land Conservation Fund. The new trust fund would fulfill the existing missions of those two trust funds and receive $12 million in fiscal year 2013 and $14 million in FY 2014. The states’ remaining conservation trust funds, the Agriculture Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund would remain as separate trust funds.
As with the Governor’s recommended budget, the Senate proposes eliminating a dedicated funding source for conservation. Land for Tomorrow is asking the House to maintain that dedicated revenue. Dedicated funding is essential for land conservation, because it provides stable and secure revenue.
“The Senate recognizes the boost that conservation contributes to our state’s economic recovery. Healthy natural lands and water are the foundation for the state’s largest industries – agriculture, tourism, and the military – and are a powerful draw for new businesses,” said Katherine Skinner, Executive Director of the North Carolina Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and a member of the Land for Tomorrow Executive Committee.
Under the proposed budget, the Water and Land Conservation Fund would receive funding on a recurring basis from the general fund and the revenue from specialty license plates supporting conservation. State agencies, local governments and non-profit conservation organizations would be eligible to apply for grants from the Water and Land Conservation Fund.
Under the proposed budget, the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, which works to both expand and maintain state parks and also provides matching grants for local governments to put toward developing and expanding local parks projects receives an $11 million appropriation in FY 13-14 and $13 million in FY 14-15.
The Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund is slated to receive funding of $1.7 million under the Senate budget proposal.
“Conservation funding was hit hard when the economy went into recession several years ago. We thank our friends in the Senate for finding a creative solution to protect conservation funding and streamline land conservation in North Carolina,” said Bill Holman, North Carolina State Director of The Conservation Fund.
Identified conservation needs exceed $50 million, and the Senate’s budget takes a positive step toward fulfilling those needs. Land for Tomorrow looks forward to working with leaders in the Senate, House of Representatives, and the McCrory administration to ensure support for adequate and reliable conservation funding and incentives.
Land for Tomorrow, a coalition of conservation, agriculture, wildlife, business and local government organizations, is committed to preserving and protecting North Carolina’s land and water resources. Its goal is to increase public awareness of the need to protect additional lands that are critical to the economic well-being and quality of life. Land for Tomorrow seeks to help the state reach its declared goal of conserving a million acres, and ensure that critical land will be available to provide clean air and drinking water, strengthen our communities, promote job growth and enhance the quality of life for generations to come.