Don’t Miss INCA’s Conservation Congress

When: Friday September 30th

Registration Ends September 20th
(You must be registered to attend)

Where: Abe Martin Lodge, Brown County State Park

Why: Indiana’s Future Depends on It.

Many of us have recognized the decrease in the recognition of the importance of Indiana’s natural resources over the years. You have to look no further than the steady decline in state funding for conservation over time.

We are at a “tipping point”. Millennials more and more consider “quality of life” when making employment and family decisions. Recent events highlight the importance of water quality and availability. There is a growing lack of understanding that a healthy natural environment is just good business. The list goes on and on …

Speakers include Bill McCoy from Patoka National Wildlife Refuge with welcoming remarks. Steven and Nancy Byers from the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin will discuss “Creating an Effective Coalition”. A fascinating grassroots story of what can be accomplished.

INCA’s Conservation Congress is an opportunity of stakeholders across Indiana to focus on the future of our natural resources and wildlife conservation. Your input is needed and valued. Space is limited, CLICK HERE, to register for the Congress now.

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INCA Priorities for Indiana’s Natural Resources

 

INDIANA CONSERVATION ALLIANCE

LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR 2015:

  1. Ask legislators to continue the $2 million general fund biennial appropriation for the Clean Water Indiana program (CWI).
  2.  Ask legislators for increased funding for the Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) to $2.5 million in the second year of the biennium.
  3.  Ask legislators for an overall increase in the budget for the Department of Natural Resources.
  4.  Express INCA’s opposition to legislation, HB 1453, which legalizes shooting deer behind fences.

1.       The Clean Water Indiana (CWI) program was created to protect and enhance the water quality of Indiana’s lakes, rivers and streams, by reducing the amount of polluted storm water runoff entering our surface and groundwater from urban and rural lands.  We successfully advocated for a $2 million biennial general fund appropriation in the last budget and ask that the General Assembly again appropriate $1 million per year for CWI.  (See fact sheet.)

 

2.       The Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) protects important natural lands for state and local parks, forests, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves, state recreation areas and historic sites.   We are asking for a $2.5 million appropriation in the second year of the biennium, at which time it is expected that all funds in the Bicentennial Nature Trust* will be committed.   (See fact sheets.)

*The IHT had been the state’s only dedicated land acquisition program until Governor Daniels established the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT) in 2012 with a $20 million transfer of funds to the Natural Resources Foundation.  Governor Daniels said he was creating the BNT, in his words, “to protect still more of our most precious natural spaces… a fitting sequel and bequest from our second century to our third.” The state’s $20 million was matched with $10 million from the Lilly Endowment.  The BNT has been very successful.  In 2 ½ years it has committed over $23 million for 115 projects in 54 counties.  The State’s $20 million investment has leveraged over $30 million in private and nonstate dollars.

 

3.       As of February 15 the Department of Natural Resources had 221 vacancies in permanent positions that could not be filled due to lack of funds.  The DNR is one of our most important agencies in focusing not only on the quality of life, but also the quality of place for all Hoosiers, who greatly value our outdoor lands — in 2014 nearly 17 million people visited our state parks and state recreation areas.  We are asking that the DNR proposed operating budget be increased sufficiently above the current budget levels to allow full staffing.  INCA also asks that the DNR’s capital budget levels are brought closer to $70 million for the biennium, which offers a more sustainable level of funding for the ongoing maintenance and rehabilitation and repair required to properly manage all of the infrastructure and land owned by DNR.

 

House Bill 1453 (Hunting Preserves) was introduced and passed by the House by a vote of 55 to 39. The bill is now under consideration by the Senate.  It has been assigned to the Rules Committee, which is chaired by Senator Long.  He has asked those in the Senate with different views on this bill should work through the issues before it has a hearing.  The Indiana Conservation Alliance opposed similar legislation in the last two sessions of the General Assembly and remains opposed to canned hunting. (See fact sheet)

When is enough enough?

Over the past several biennial budget sessions of the Indiana General Assembly, funding for conservation and natural resources has decreased (as it has for almost all aspects of the state budget).  There has been a systematic approach by previous and current administrations of requiring reserves from the appropriation levels that were passed by the General Assembly.

Illustration:

Let’s say, one line item in your Natural Resource budget was $100,000 for a program.  You were required to put in reserve $3,000, leaving you with $97,000 to spend.  Then when the next budget preparation period comes along, your new baseline becomes $97,000.  And then you are asked again by the administration to set 3% in reserve, or $2910.  Next budget…you are now down to $94,010 as your baseline.  When is enough enough?

That’s why we are asking you to communicate with your Representative and your Senator, as well as the Governor, to let them know that you believe the Department of Natural Resources is as low as it can go, in fact they have 215 vacancies that cannot be filled if they are to meet there new budget as it now stands.

This quite literally makes it impossible for the DNR to do what they are supposed to do.

So, if you like visiting state parks and staying in the inns or camping in the campgrounds or hiking on the trails in a nature preserve or wandering through a fish and wildlife area or state forest, let people know that you expect to have a good experience.  Your children need to exercise; they need to be outdoors; the family needs to have these times together in areas that are well managed, both natural features and constructed features.  Additionally, let them know you want the DNR or your local parks department or your local or regional land trust to be able to buy natural lands in your county that are valued as natural lands and you want to be sure they are protected and there to see on that Sunday drive.

Enough is enough.

Indiana ranks in the top 10 for business climate.   However, Forbes ranks Indiana 49th out of 50 of America’s Greenest States.

Government services and programs are funded by taxes. While we all enjoy lower taxes how low can we go and still preserve Indiana’s natural resources for future Hoosiers?

Let your representative know continuous funding decreases are not good for business.

 

Conservation Day at the Statehouse – March 24th

Join your voice with others concerned for Indiana’s natural resource future —

We will soon be past the half way point of this session of the State Legislature which will determine the future of conservation and natural resources in Indiana for the next two years, and perhaps much longer than that.

Come to the Statehouse March 24th for coffee, meet with your legislator(s) and let them know that Indiana’s natural heritage is their responsibility to see that resources are available to preserve and protect it for future generations … hope to see you on the 24th.

 

Keep Informed — Join INCAs Email List

The 2015 Legislative session is getting organized and ready to start up. With as many issues facing legislators, much of their work is done in committee and brought to the floor for approval. While this is an efficient way to get things done, it is fast paced and sometimes not easy to follow.

INCA’s insiders keep track of all the issues affecting natural resource and conservation funding. Click here or on the tab above to join INCA’s email list to stay up to date and be informed.

(You need to be a member of an INCA member organization to join the list – 
check it out, you may be and don’t know it.)