Conservation groups 'disappointed' by McCrory budget

Posted March 27, 2013

— North Carolina conservation groups say they're working with House and Senate leaders to ease deep cuts proposed by Gov. Pat McCrory.

Speaking at a press conference for the Land For Tomorrow coalition, Debbie Crane with The Nature Conservancy said the governor's budget "just slashes land conservation" funds.

The Clean Water Management Trust Fund would be cut to $6.8 million, down from a high of $100 million a few years ago. The Parks and Recreation Trust Fund would be cut by 44 percent, while the National Heritage Trust Fund would be cut by 58 percent.

"We're disappointed in the budget, but we're very hopeful to be able to work with House and Senate leaders," said North Carolina Wildlife Federation Chief Executive Tim Gestwicki, a Republican. "It's time to put 'conserve' back in the conservative party."

"People who think conservation is a throwaway item, they're totally wrong," Crane said. "It's jobs."

Crane said land and water preservation are essential to tourism, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation, military expansion and local economic development.

"For every dollar of public trust fund spent, we get a $4 return," she added. "Some people think of us as tree-huggers, but we're an economic driver."

Johnny Farmer, Eden's director of parks and recreation, said trust fund matching grants of $400,000 allowed the city to develop its showplace Freedom Park.

Farmer says the park is booked almost every weekend from March through November for big tournaments and other events that help fill hotels and restaurants throughout Rockingham County.

"That activity has been able to keep some of those people in business just because of the people coming there," Farmer said.

Gestwicki said $3.3 billion is spent on hunting and fishing every year in the state, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

He also quoted a study from the Outdoor Recreation Industry that found outdoor activities generated $19 billion in consumer spending in North Carolina last year and directly supported 192,000 jobs, bringing in $1.3 billion in state and local taxes.

Yet, McCrory's proposal devotes only about 0.1 percent of the budget to conservation – less than Alabama or South Carolina, Gestwicki noted, adding, "those states don't have the expected population growth that North Carolina has."

Land for Tomorrow is asking lawmakers to restore $20 million in recurring funding to the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, restore dedicated recurring funding for the Parks and Recreation and National Heritage Trust Funds, continue funding the Farmland Preservation fund and maintain the state's conservation tax credit program.


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  • slatesplace Mar 28, 2013

    This is so much nonsense. The Wall Street Journal just did an article on some of the shady dealings of the Nature Conservancy, go look for your self. As for Corporate welfare you are talking about look at the Board of Directors of the Nature conservancy. It reads like a who's who of Corporate America (Bankers, HP, Google, etc...) Why can't these rich guys just donate their money to the nature conservancy, why do they need our tax dollars? By their own admission they are flush with cash. They have a donation page, just go give your money to them and leave mine alone. Mr. Goodmon could shurely pony up a few million since he is such an advocate, and stop being an elitist rich guy demanding my money so he can do what he thinks is right. If it is so good, just raise the money you need and leave me alone it should not be a problem, becuase you have all these supporters here, and I am sure they are willing to send a check too. LOL.

  • Wirklich Mar 28, 2013

    The current GOP legislators are so focused on expanding corporate welfare, and are so blinded by its influence, they have forgotten what their agrarian grandparents taught them: clean water, land and air sustains life. If you don't have that, you can forget enjoying a good quality of life in your suburban mcmansions.

    Preserving the environment is the traditional/conservative position in NC! The extreme positions of our current GOP legislature on the environment would be foreign to what most North Carolinians have valued over the years.

  • rosannedisney Mar 27, 2013

    We live in the most beautiful state in the U.S.A. (IMO). It is well worth the investment conserve and protect it.

  • oakcity Mar 27, 2013

    " Jobs are number one right now."

    and yet they still haven't done anything about that.

  • FairPlay Mar 27, 2013

    Cuts have to come at sometime to kill overspending. Public donations will still come in. Greeners cry at every cent that gets cut. Jobs are number one right now.

  • wilson321 Mar 27, 2013

    Hey nothing is stopping you from getting your checkbook out and writing a check to support all you want. Surely, there's enough of you tree huggers out there to make up the budget cuts. Put your money where your mouth is and get your hands out of my pocket!

  • kornfan2448 Mar 27, 2013

    Wonder how the 20 or so home owners in Wake Forest with contaminated water feel about the cuts in The Clean Water Management Trust Fund? And that's just one neighborhood.

  • Scubagirl Mar 27, 2013

    "It is sad that the current GOP legislators and governor are too "short-sighted" to understand that investing in natural resource conservation and preserving water quality are in the best economic interest of all North Carolinians."

    Sad AND very scary!

  • Wirklich Mar 27, 2013

    nerdlywehunt, how about:
    "drink that fresh fracking juice," children...you voted for him, now you got it!!!

  • Wirklich Mar 27, 2013

    It is sad that the current GOP legislators and governor are too "short-sighted" to understand that investing in natural resource conservation and preserving water quality are in the best economic interest of all North Carolinians.