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.
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.
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.