Friday, January 4, 2008

Help Support Local Land Conservation Funding Efforts

I continue to be pleased with State Representative John J. Loughlin’s environmental efforts. In another show, he recently sent Governor Carcieri an open letter requesting additional bond funding in his next state budget submission to help support three land conservation programs. Unfortunately, the letter hasn’t caught much attention from the local media. That’s where alternative media like blogs can fill the void.

I asked Representative Loughlin to comment on local projects that have benefited from other open space bonds. He graciously reminded me of projects such as Town Pond in Portsmouth, Pocasset Ridge in Tiverton, and the recent Treaty Rock farm acquisition in Little Compton. Many of these projects also benefit from other sources of federal and private matching funds, but unless there is local funding on the table, there’s nothing to match.

Here’s the letter. You can contact the Governor’s Office to voice your support by calling 401.222.2080 or by email.

December 17, 2008

The Honorable Donald L. Carcieri
State Of Rhode Island
State House, Room 222
Providence, Rhode Island 02903

On Open Letter To Governor Carcieri

Dear Governor Carcieri:

As you and your staff finalize a very difficult state budget, I would like to respectfully request you include in your budget submission, provisions for a $15 million in bond funding (over the next two years) to be put before the voters in November of 2008. The purpose of the bond issue would be for three land conservation programs:

$5 million for the Local Open Space Grants Program;

$5 million for the RI Farmland Protection Program; and

$5 million for the DEM Land Acquisition Program.

Please consider that without new bond funding, these important state land conservation programs will come to a halt in 2008. Moveover, Rhode Island will lose matching federal and private funding for land conservation - as much as $3 for every state $1 will be lost. Also, state bond money is a catalyst and provides seed funding for all three programs.

Rhode Islanders recognize the importance of saving our farms, forests and open spaces for future generations. In 2000, and in 2004 Open Space Bond Referendums have consistently passed with more than 70% of the vote. As recently as November of 2007, Portsmouth overwhelmingly passed a local open space bond.

In Little Compton, the Agricultural Conservancy Trust, together with other groups recently were able to preserve for future generations 120 acres of rolling farmland known as Treaty Rock Farm.

In Tiverton, we remain committed to protecting our precious rural character through the Tiverton Land Trust.

Our farms and open spaces will disappear if we do not act now to ensure they are available for our children and grandchildren to cherish and enjoy. In closing, you have shown great leadership in the past toward protecting and defending our environment. It is with that background that I urge you to help Rhode Islanders preserve our rural character and please include the 15 million dollar bond in your budget request. In return, I can assure you that I will work diligently to help ensure passage in the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

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