INDIANA CONSERVATION ALLIANCE
LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES FOR 2015:
- Ask legislators to continue the $2 million general fund biennial appropriation for the Clean Water Indiana program (CWI).
- Ask legislators for increased funding for the Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) to $2.5 million in the second year of the biennium.
- Ask legislators for an overall increase in the budget for the Department of Natural Resources.
- 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)