From: Jack G. Conrad [mailto:jackgconrad @ earthlink.net]
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2003 11:41 PM
Subject: Funding for Open Space --- What We Can Still Do
Dear Friends of Patrick Eagan Park,
At 12:30 am today, the conference committee passed out its report on environment finance:
Highlights for Metro land protection/restoration:
The House and Senate are expected to take up the bill tomorrow in floor session, which begins at 8 in the House and 10? in the Senate. What is left to do?
PLENTY! CALL some key people TODAY! (Do not delay - request $3M!) see talking pts below
BONDING: Metro Wildlife Corridors cuts to $4.85M hit Metro Greenways particularly hard, in part because we may be able to secure some bonding which was vetoed last May by Ventura - $1M. Also vetoed last year were Scientific and Natural Area Program at $1M and Natural and Scenic Area Grants at $1M. (Greater MN Regional Parks is considered a shoe-in for $4M because of political landscape.) The project solicitation resulted in a very rough tally of over $35M in acquisition and $2.5M in restoration, without adding in all the projects without a dollar value noted. The demand for Metro Greenways, SNA, and NSA is great and indisputable, and waiting until next year means opportunities lost and match lost. That $1M funding per program will not be added to next year's requests (or otherwise put, the programs are not likely to get a double dose in the 2004 bonding bill).
The recent leadership press release said that "about $175M" will be in the bill (which was part of the negotiated deal between Gov, H and S), but word has it that the number is growing because debt service is relatively cheap. Leadership is now assembling a bonding bill, with particular attention to freshman House members' districts. THAT INCLUDES MANY in Metro Wildlife Corridors Project focus areas. I have attached the legislator/focus area list, with the focus areas pre-recent revisions (early March).
YOU can help make sure that natural resources are included in the bonding bill, and in particular, that Metro Greenways, Scientific and Natural Area Program (DNR) and Natural and Scenic Area grants (to LGUs, 50% match required) are IN at $1M each.
SO: Please call your own legislators and the following leaders and make the pitch:
As you consider a bonding bill, I would like to remind you of important projects that were vetoed last session:
I urge you to support restoring last year's vetoed bond funds for these critical environmental projects. All three leverage significant resources from private and other public agencies. Bonding now for these three programs will save money by securing land quickly before land values increase further. The need to protect and restore crucial links in our fish, wildlife, and natural resources cannot be deferred; willing sellers cannot wait. Investing in conservation should be a top priority for capital investment, especially when interest rates are at historically low levels.
I hope you will take this opportunity to support and protect Minnesota's environment and natural resources.