Monday, April 27, 2009

With land prices down, environmentalists push Obama plan for more purchases for parks, refuges

Environmentalists are optimistic over the future of land conservation in the U.S., after President Obama proposed that the federal government spent $420 million next year to buy land for national parks, forests and refuges, and for parks and recreation projects; and that the annual amount be raised to $900 million within five years. The proposed increase, combined with lower land prices, has many pushing Congress to appropriate the funds.

"Property values are not today what they were a year ago," said Alan Front, senior vice president of the Trust for Public Land. "Every dollar that is invested in the Land and Water Conservation Fund probably buys a little bit more habitat, a little bit more recreational trail, a little bit more scenic vista than it bought a year ago."

Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times notes that, of the $171 million allocated to the Land and Water Conservation Fund this year, "the amount earmarked for National Park Service purchases was a third of what it was a decade ago." The appointment of Ken Salazar, who supported conservation funding as a senator from Colorado, as interior secretary, has many hopeful that this trend will be reversed. (Read more)

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