Thursday, April 26, 2007

State Funds Help Johnston County Protect Land And Water

North Carolina's land and water conservation trust funds provided more than $1 million for projects in Johnston County in 2006, according to the annual Green Book report released by Land for Tomorrow. The majority of the $1 million went to Smithfield Community and Aquatics Center , and preservation of Bentonville Battleground. Since 1993, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund, Natural Heritage Trust Fund, and Parks and Recreation Trust Fund have spent more than $10.1 million in Johnston County to help conserve land and water. In the 1980s and 1990s, the General Assembly created the trusts to help support diverse environmental improvement projects. Funding for the trusts comes through a combination of appropriations, personalized license plate sales and portions of the deed transfer tax. Despite the funding of some key conservation projects, the funds allocated have not been sufficient to keep up with the needs of the state. Last year, the trusts received nearly 500 applications from local governments and conservation nonprofits totaling $540 million, but were able to provide funding of only $205 million. Recently, Land for Tomorrow asked the General Assembly to provide $200 million per year for five years to preserve and protect the state's land, water and special places before they are irreversibly lost. Just last year, the number of growing communities in North Carolina pushed our population ahead of New Jersey . More than 100,000 acres of forests, farms, stream banks, wildlife habitat and wetlands are being developed annually. North Carolina leads the nation in loss of family farms. More than 3,000 miles of streams and rivers don't meet clean water standards. "If we don't act now, we may not recognize our state in twenty years," Dixon said.


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