Yesterday Hoosier Environmental Council policy team met with the Governor’s office to request that land conservation funding be included in the Governor’s draft budget to the Indiana General Assembly. We have been partnering with the Indiana Land Conservation Alliance on this effort and believe that this week, in the next three days, there is a critical window of opportunity to influence the Governor’s decision.
If you care about our parks, natural spaces, and wildlife habitat, please join in this effort by calling and/or emailing Governor Holcomb and asking that land conservation be prioritized in the budget. Governor Holcomb’s office can be reached by calling 317-232-4567 or by submitting an email through the following web address https://www.in.gov/gov/ask-eric/.
When you call or contact, here are some talking points you can use.
Our Indiana parks and natural spaces are a Hoosier treasure. In fact, outdoor recreation adds nearly $13 billion annually to our Indiana economy and provides employment to 107,000 Hoosiers. Use of the parks has grown dramatically since the pandemic and at the same time, wildlife habitat is shrinking. Please include investment in land conservation in your 2023-2025 budget.
Working with the Indiana Conservation Alliance, HEC is seeking robust new state investment in conserving our forests, rivers, wetlands, and our native fish and wildlife who depend on these habitats. In addition to the environmental benefits of land and wildlife conservation– clean air, clean water, pollination, carbon sequestration and climate resilience – these natural lands provide highly-valued outdoor recreation opportunities to meet the growing demand for parks, trails and greenways, and access to streams and lakes. What’s more, parks, trails and other outdoor lands are considered essential to improved quality of life, increasingly recognized as a key to successful community and economic development. “Innovation requires inspiration,” says the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and this inspiration is provided by our natural spaces, from Chain O’Lakes State Park to Clark State Forest, from Limberlost to the Lost River, from Wabashiki Fish and Wildlife Area to Whitewater Memorial State Park.
But we can and must do better. Indiana lags behind many states in its commitment to our natural resources and outdoor places. Midwestern and central U.S. states like Missouri, Arkansas, and Minnesota invest hundreds of millions of dollars every year to create and expand public parks and trails, improve fish and wildlife habitats, and conserve soils. Across the country, these investments contribute to the positive economic return in jobs and value added from outdoor recreation: a new national economic report puts the value of outdoor recreation at $454 billion a year. In Indiana, the economic contribution is valued at $12.9 billion a year, employing over 107,000 Hoosiers. (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2021).
The need for this new investment is readily apparent – Indiana’s state parks hosted two million more annual visitors in 2020, during the pandemic, and this increased activity has continued. Local trails use has grown, state forests experienced record trail use, and demand for state land conservation and trail grants far exceeds available funds. The Indiana Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (2021-2025) reports that many Indiana communities are deficient in outdoor recreation acres – – 39 counties and four of sixteen regions don’t provide optimum recreation places.
Our conservation budget proposal – an added $65 million a year – includes increased funding for the President Harrison Conservation Trust, the Lake and River Enhancement Fund, Clean Water Indiana, state matching funds for expected new federal dollars to protect our fish and wildlife species at greatest risk, and more resources for essential positions at Indiana’s state parks and for district foresters.
- Share a personal story through social media of what the parks and nature mean to you (and add #supportINparks) and invite others to join our cause.
- Please contact your State Representative and Governor Eric Holcomb (317-232-4567), and urge them to include this new conservation investment in the state budget bill.
- Stay up-to-date on all of the calls to action using our Bill Watch 2023 page.