Substantially Increase State Funding for Land and Water Conservation
The Conservation Committee recommends that the CMC take the following position on funding land and water conservation:
The Carolina Mountain Club believes that funding for the acquisition, protection, and maintenance of public lands should be a priority for the State of North Carolina. Accordingly, the Carolina Mountain Club requests the State of North Carolina to substantially increase funding for land and water conservation. The Carolina Mountain Club supports the draft recommendation of the Joint Legislative Commission on Land and Water Conservation to increase state funding $1 billion from $805 million to $1.805 billion over five years. A key objective of the CMC is to encourage the conservation of our natural scenery and the hiking experience in Western North Carolina and surrounding areas. Pressures from increasing population growth demand prompt and fully-funded action by the state to protect our natural treasures.
In the short session of the 2006 North Carolina General Assembly, bill H2827/S1907 was introduced to increase funding for land and water conservation and historic preservation from $805 million to $1.8 billion over five years. Of the $1 billion increase, $175 million would go to the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. This fund improves and expands state and local parks, with special emphasis on trails and urban forest protection. The remainder of the $1 billion increase would go to other existing state land, water and cultural conservation trust funds. Although the bill had wide support in the General Assembly, the Governor and some leaders were concerned about the state taking on additional bond debt to fund the bill. So, the referendum on the bill did not go on the 2006 ballot.
The General Assembly and the Governor created the Land and Water Conservation Commission, charged with making recommendations to the 2007 General assembly concerning how to pay for this increase in funding. The Land and Water Conservation Commission will hold three meetings across the state to get public input. The first meeting is on January 4, 2007 in Asheville. The Conservation Committee will communicate CMC’s position, above, to the Land and Water Conservation Commission, and other public avenues, if approved by Council.
Bill H2827/S1907 was formulated in response to a well organized coalition of conservation organizations called “Land for Tomorrow.” The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Friends of the MST support the increased funding as members of Land for Tomorrow. A wide range of over 240 organizations are partners in Land for Tomorrow including the City of Asheville, the League of Women Voters, the Blue Ridge