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.

 

Most Natural Resources are Outside Indianapolis …

INCA needs member support across the state as well.
To strengthen our “unified voice advocating for public funding for land, water, and wildlife“, the INCA is hosting a series of regional grassroots meetings to identify and engage conservation-minded citizens in the effort to secure meaningful public funding for conservation.  
 
At these meetings, we will share information about INCA and provide a brief history of our conservation funding advocacy and the results.  Most importantly, we want to talk to people locally to hear what is important to them to protect, what their communities are doing and how state programs might be useful.  We want to find out how much people are or aren’t communicating with their legislators.  If they’re not, how can we assist?   If they are, we want to support and encourage them to continue and will do our best to provide them pertinent information or provide assistance as needed.
 
As you know we are in an era of reducing government, but as a former legislator told us, “priorities get funded in good times and priorities get funded in bad times.”  We want to grow our influence with members of the general assembly – both in their districts and at the statehouse –to make conservation funding a statewide priority.     
 
The meetings will be held in:
 
Southeast Indiana
Date:  Tuesday, August 26th
6 pm to 8 pm (EDT)
 
Location:  Batesville Memorial Public Library
131 N. Walnut Street
Batesville, IN

Southern Indiana
New Albany/Jeffersonville/Clarksville area
Date:   September 11, 6 to 8 p.m.
 
Location: Pineview Government Center
2524 Corydon Pike
Rm. 102
New Albany, IN  47150
 

Northern Indiana

South Bend/Elkhart area 
Date and location to be announced
 
For more information about a specific regional meeting, contact:
 
for North meeting:  Holly Jones, hollysinthegarden@gmail.com, 317-517-9180
 
for South meeting:  Lynn Dennis, ldennis@tnc.org, 317-829-3810
 
for Southeast meeting: Tim Maloney, tmaloney@hecweb.org, 812-369-8677
 
 

Button, button, who’s got the button …

Senate Bill 404, “canned hunting” failed to pass by one vote to move to the House of Representatives for consideration.  However that does not mean the subject is  “dead” for this session. The language, that was Senate Bill 404, may indeed pass on, similar to the “button” in the children’s game. It can arise again as an amendment to another bill that has passed one chamber of the Legislature and is under consideration by the other chamber, either in the House or Senate.

A possibility exists that the “canned hunting button” may appear as an amendment in Senate Bill 52, Criminal Penalties & DNR. (As long as the topic of the amendment is sort of close to the original subject, it passes parliamentary muster.)  Last year a similar “canned hunting” bill, SB 487  Shooting and Hunting Preserves, was passed by the Senate and the House, but didn’t make it out of Conference Committee. If “canned hunting” is amended into Senate Bill 52, you can get an idea of your Representatives position on it from his/her vote last year (click here).

Senate Bill 52 is assigned to the Corrections and Criminal Law committee in the House.

On the other hand, the “canned hunting button” may be amended into HB 1307  Various Natural Resource Matters, which passed in the House of Representatives and is being considered by the Senate now. It is assigned to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee who passed the original SB 404 out of committee only to have it fall one vote short of passage in the full Senate – two Senators were absent for the vote. (The amended bill would have to go to Conference Committee and if approved by that committee then be voted on by each chamber for final passage.)

In addition to the obvious ethical issues involved in “canned hunting” there is great risk of introducing Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into Indiana’s natural deer population. Once introduced CWD cannot be contained or eliminated. Unlike the Emerald Ash Borer and Asian Carp the principle vector for CWD disease is the Interstate Highway system and the farms that raise captive deer.

Senator Yoder passes on 2nd Reading of Canned Hunting Bill

Today, SB 404 was up for 2nd reading which included the opportunity to amend and to engross (put the bill in final form) and to move the bill to 3rd reading and final vote.

The process will repeat itself on Monday, the final day for 2nd reading.  There is still time to contact your Senator and express your views. SB 404 will come up again on 2nd reading to see if it progresses. The Senate calendar hopes to finish all bills (3rd reading) on Tuesday.

The introduction in Indiana of Chronic Wasting Disease is thought to have come from Pennsylvania (over the interstate highway in a truck). Click here to see why this disease is so difficult to track in the video on our Fact Sheet page.

INCA member Indiana Wildlife Federation shares the following on their website.

Canned Hunting bill SB404 passed the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee with a vote of 6-1.

Update on SB404 – The bill passed the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee with a vote of 6-1.  We thank Sen. Tim Skinner of Terre Haute for taking a stand for wildlife and voting no.  The bill was amended to add a few features that would help reduce the likelihood of captive deer escaping.  That said, this is still a bad bill no matter how you look at it.  The major concerns fall into two categories:  1. Health of the wild deer herd, and 2. Fair chase and hunting ethics.   While the opposition may propose things like double fencing to keep wild deer and captive deer from interacting, there’s no way to dress this up to be fair chase hunting.

Action that you, your friends, family, and affiliate members can take to speak up for wildlifeand stop legalization of high fence shooting/canned hunting:

  1. Contact the people who have the power to address this and make the right decision that canned hunting is not good business for Indiana:
    • Gov. Mike Pence:  317-232-4567
    • Sen. David Long, Senate President Pro Tempore: 317-232-9416, Senator.Long@iga.in.gov
    • Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma:  317-232-9657, h88@iga.in.gov

2. Sign the on line petition to oppose canned hunting in Indiana: http://www.change.org/petitions/ban-canned-hunting-in-indiana

January 28th Editorials from the Journal Gazette:

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20140128/EDIT07/301289995/1021/edit

http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20140128/EDIT07/301289984/1021/edit