Dear Tennessee Conservationist:
All funding for land conservation from the State of Tennessee is at risk! This may be the most important request for action you will receive this year. The fate of $16.5 million for conserving Tennessee’s woods, waters and wildlife will be determined next week (we think by Tuesday or Wednesday) when the Senate Finance Committee reviews the State budget. If we lose our funding this year, we may never get the “dedicated” funds returned again.
Please help. PLEASE make phone calls to the following TODAY:
* Senator Mark Norris, Republican Leader (615-741-1967)
* Senator Randy McNally, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee (615-741-6806)
* Your Senator (if he/she appears on the list below)
Here’s your message: Restore all land conservation funding in the State’s budget, “dedicated” from the Tennessee Real Estate Transfer Fees. It is important for JOBS. It is important for a Forever Green Tennessee, our woods, our waters, our wildlife. Less than 1/10th of 1% of our State’s Budget supports these vital programs. It is wrong to divert them again.
Quick overview: In 1991, the legislature added a small increase to the Real Estate Transfer Fees (the fee you pay when a real estate deed is recorded) to generate money to save parks, wetlands, woods, wildlife and waters. In 2003-2008 this “dedicated” fund was diverted to the general fund. They were supposed to return to their “dedicated” purpose in June 2008, but unfortunately were taken the last week of the budget process and once again diverted from their “dedicated” purpose to balance the budget. This is wrong. These funds are in the Governor’s budget to reinstate in June 2010, but they are in jeopardy of being taken from their original purpose yet again! The fees generate $16.5 million and include $6.5 million for conserving wetlands and wildlife areas, $3.1 million for conserving state park lands, $3.7 million for local parks (requires a match from the city/co.) and $3.2 million for farmers to clean up or prevent pollution of our creeks and rivers.
More Talking Points: * These funds create jobs and are great for our economy. Tourism generates 180,000 jobs, and parks are our most popular tourist attractions; * These funds leverage federal funding, city and county funding, private gifts, and investments from farmers; * These funds are a common sense approach – as real estate is developed a small fund saves the best Tennessee has to offer; * We want our children and grandchildren to have a beautiful environment and strong economy and these funds are critical for the Forever Green Tennessee that we want our children to inherit; * We want Tennessee to always be known as the “greenest state in the land of the free.”
For more information, there is a fact sheet and 13-minute movie that describes these funds as well as pictures of our legislative friends on our blog:
Please take 5 minutes to save our precious homeland. We must show our legislators that Tennesseans care about our environment. With your help, together we WILL Forever Green Tennessee.
Kathleen Williams Executive Director,
Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation
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