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E-M:/ Federal Lands Legacy and Smarth Growth initatives



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Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
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Enviro-Mich folks:

Most of you have probably heard a little about the Clinton Administration's
proposal for land acquisition and livable communities that were announced as
part of the State of the Union -- Below is more detail.  These are clearly
issues that are of great concern here in Michigan.  Please take time to let
your US Congressional Representative and our US Senators know that THIS ISSUE
MATTERS in Michigan, and that they should SUPPORT these efforts to counter the
effects of sprawl and loss of wildlands.  

Anne Woiwode
 
Here's a memo prepared by the Russell Shay of The Land 
Trust Alliance describing the two initiatives in more 
detail: 
 
  Livable Communities Initiative
 
On Jan. 11, Vice President Gore announced a proposal
for a series of Livable Communities initiatives that will 
be included in the Clinton administration's budget for 
fiscal year 2000. The centerpiece is a proposal to create 
a new financial instrument to help towns, cities, 
counties, states and land trusts acquire open space or 
undertake other "smart growth" projects.
 
Essentially, they are proposing that Congress pass 
legislation that would create $700 million in tax credits 
over five years, which could be used in lieu of interest 
payments for bonds for land acquisition, brownfield 
development, park restoration, or other projects. The 
bondholders would not be paid interest -- they would 
receive the equivalent of interest in tax credits. 
 
Those tax credits could be enough to support a total of 
as much as $9.5 billion in bond authority.
 
Among the other elements of the vice president's 
proposal:
 
--a $50 million matching fund for local partnerships to 
design and pursue smart growth strategies across 
jurisdictional lines, run by the Department of 
Housing and Urban Development;
 
--a budget request for a record $6.1 billion for mass 
transit;
 
--a request for $1.6 billion for the Congestion 
Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program under 
TEA-21 (the transportation bill passed last year);  
 
--a $10 million grant program by the Department of 
Education to encourage school districts to involve 
communities in planning new schools (with an eye to 
placing schools in community centers and utilizing their 
facilities for various community activities);
 
--a $50 million program for sharing crime information 
regionally.
 
 
  Lands Legacy Initiative
 
On Jan. 12, President Clinton unveiled a proposal to 
reformulate the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with 
higher spending levels for federal land acquisition, 
funds for states to use to acquire open space, and funds 
for open space planning by state and regional entities.
 
The "Lands Legacy Initiative," contained in the 
Administration's fiscal year 2000 budget will include the 
following:
 
--$150 million in matching grants for states, local 
governments and land trusts for land protection and 
acquisition. Grants will be awarded to states on 
a competitive basis and priority will be given to smart- 
growth initiatives;
 
--$442 million for federal Land and Water Conservation 
Fund projects. Priorities include adding 100,000 acres to 
national forests and refuges in the Northern Forest (in 
New England), acquiring 450,000 acres in the Mojave 
Desert, acquiring lands in the Everglades, protecting the 
Lewis and Clark Trail, and acquiring lands to commemorate 
Civil War battlefields;
 
--$50 million for the Forest Legacy Program, which 
purchases conservation easements on private forest lands 
(including working forests) threatened with development;
 
--$150 million to protect oceans and coastlines, $90 of 
which will be directed to states to protect/restore 
coastlines and coastal wetlands, $45 million to restore 
fisheries, coral reefs, and marine habitat, and $29 
million for national marine sanctuaries;
 
--$50 million in grants to states to develop open space 
plans and "smart growth" strategies;
 
--$4 million for matching grants to communities to fund 
renovation of parks in urban neighborhoods;
 
--$50 million for the Farmland Protection Program to 
purchase easements on farmland and open space threatened 
with development;
 
--$40 million to maintain and expand urban and community 
forests through the Urban and Community Forestry Program; 
and
 
--$80 million for the Cooperative Endangered Species 
Conservation Fund to help state and local land 
acquisition to protect endangered species. 
 
Both of these initiatives are paid for within the 
existing budget caps. They don't come from the budget 
"surplus," nor at the expense of other natural resource 
budgets. The Administration will seek these funds as part 
of the appropriations process this year.  
 
Even more importantly, the president made a commitment to 
seek legislation making funding for the Lands Legacy 
Initiative permanent in the future.
 
All of these are fantastic ideas -- BUT THEY NEED 
APPROVAL OF THE CONGRESS, which will only be achieved 
with a concerted effort from the conservation 
community and from municipal, county and state government 
leaders. 
 
There are two important pieces of news in this that 
shouldn't be lost sight of:
 
One is that this Administration has stepped up to the 
plate on sprawl, figured out that open space acquisition 
is an important part of dealing with growth. The
EPA has fought hardest to be the home for this issue in 
the federal government.
 
The other point is that the Administration has determined 
to fight for increased funding for land acquisition this 
year, and to fight for a PERMANENT increase in land 
acquisition and parks funding -- not just for federal 
agencies, but for state and local governments, as well.
 



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