Conservation Groups Will Fight Proposed Cuts on Program Open Space & Land Preservation Programs

As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Senate has adopted budget language that would result in severe cuts to Program Open Space (POS), Rural Legacy and the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, capping total funding to those programs at $100 million in general obligation bonds.  The money taken from these programs will go to the State Highway Administration to fund stormwater mitigation under the State’s Watershed Implementation Plan.  MACo will be fighting the proposed cuts in the House and has urged interested counties to directly contact their legislators.  Local POS funding is not only used to acquire recreational lands but also to construct recreational facilities such as park buildings, trails and boat ramps, ball fields, and swimming pools.

A March 20 MarylandReporter.com article reported that many other open space and land conservation groups will also be joining in the fight against the cuts.

Environmental and land conservation advocates, along with county officials across the state, are gearing up to fight a Senate Budget Committee proposal to limit Program Open Space funding to $100 million a year.

The Maryland Association of Counties said the cap on open space funding would result in “devastating” cuts of as much as $263 million over the next five years.  …

“The funds are urgently needed,” said Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1000 Friends of Maryland, one of the Partners for Open Space, a coalition of environmental, conservation and recreation groups.

According to a fact sheet from the Partners for Open Space, $1 billion has been diverted from the transfer tax for open space over the four-decade life of the program.

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