Tell Your Legislator: Conservation Matters!

Jane and David Savage, Conservation Advocacy Team Leaders, submitted this report on the 2015/2016 legislative session.

Indiana Conservation Alliance (INCA) legislative priorities for 2015/2016 were:

1. Continue the $2 million general fund biennial appropriation for the Clean Water Indiana (CWI) program. The Clean Water Indiana 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.  Result:The CWI program was funded at $1million each budget year.

2. Increased funding for the Indiana Heritage Trust (IHT) to $2.5 million in the second year of the biennium. 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. IHT funds come from public funding and environmental license plates. Result: Funding for the IHT was not increased. The fund will receive $94,090 per year. No increase.

3. An overall increase in the budget for the Department of Natural Resources. As of February 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 recreation areas. We are asking that the DNR proposed operating budget be increased sufficiently to allow full staffing. INCA also asks that the DNR’s capital budget be brought closer to $70 million for the biennium. This would offer a more sustainable level of funding for the ongoing maintenance and repair required to properly manage all of the infrastructure and land owned by DNR. Result: There was some increase in funding for state parks.

4. INCA’s opposes legislation, HB 1453, which legalizes shooting deer behind fences. House Bill 1453 (Hunting Preserves) was introduced and passed by the House by a vote of 55 to 39. The Indiana Conservation Alliance opposed similar legislation in the last two sessions of the General Assembly and remains opposed to canned hunting. Result: Although House Bill 1453 (Hunting Preserves), which would have legalized “canned hunting” passed in the House, it was defeated in the Senate.

Jane Savage said the INCA priorities tend to be the same each year. In order to win gains in these recurring areas of concern, she said legislators need to hear from all of us that “conservation matters!”

Comments

    Steve Van Zant wrote on August 17, 2015

    My thanks to both Jane and David for the tireless effort they give to communicate all our concerns toward the need to increase funding for conservation in Indiana. Yes , the funding is so very lacking. We all must continue to fuel the fight

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