June 23, 2007

Land for Tomorrow Today

Many years ago (maybe 10) Gov. Jim Hunt challenged the state to conserve a million acres of open space. His initiative was groundbreaking then and remains an important challenge for the state. The plan has been revived by a several conservation groups working as "Land for Tomorrow, Today"
The group is pushing for a state-wide land conservation bond referendum. The legislature is balking, trying to prioritize future spending needs. This one seems to make sense to me. The recent newsletter of the group described the situation very well:
“With land prices rising faster than interest rates, bond funding makes good fiscal sense,” said Sue Cole, principal of Granville Capital Inc. and Land for Tomorrow ambassador. “The state could save millions by using bonds to buy land now before the prices increase or the usefulness of the land for conservation disappears forever.”

Nowhere has this point been better illustrated than on the coast where rising land prices have limited communities ability to acquire land, especially for conservation. Nags Head has tried to acquire land for additional green space with limited success recently. Past purchases, especially in Nags Head Woods, seem pretty wise given the potential development value of that land now. One group that deserves some credit in this field is the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. Under the leadership of Executive Director Carolyn McCormick they have developed a program to help local governments fund open space acquisitions. There biggest problem has been a lack of interest, rather than a lack of money.
Lets hope the legislature gives the voters of the state a chance to decide how they want to spend their tax dollars. I'm betting that a bond for land conservation would pass easily, if it was given the chance.


At 4:22 PM, Blogger Monticello said...

It would get my vote in a heart beat. This is one of those areas where I depart from standard libertarian fare. One thing that NC and VA missed out on was locally owned, non-developed oceanfront beaches. I suppose the huge Fed presence on Hatteras beaches quelled some of the urge up here, but wouldn't it be nice if there was a mile or so of public beach with nothing but a parking lot and showers! You find these in Florida, although they hit you hard for parking fees!


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