Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Attention All Ohio Birders!

Please take the time to read this message I received from our local Audubon chapter.

Our glorious leaders in the state capital are panicking with the budget short fall. In addition to them devastating the libraries budgets and what that will mean to our already suffering educational system, they now will throw away more than 30 years of environmental struggles that have given us so many natural areas to hike and bird in.

Thanks,
Dave

*Please take a moment to ponder all that has been accomplished by the Arc of Appalachia...

Since our inception thirteen years ago, we have purchased over 65 properties, and 3200 acres of life-drenched bio-diverse native landscapes - primarily with private philanthropic dollars. Yet such work is only supplemental to what can and should be accomplished with state tax dollars.

The Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves currently oversees an astounding 134 public nature preserves in our state, stewarding 30,000 acres, run by some of the finest conservation professionals we could ever have the pleasure to work with. Most of these preserves are
open to the public, free of charge, with well maintained systems of hiking trails.

Can you imagine a scenario in which an entire Division disappears?
It's hard, but it's important to try. Due to state money shortages, The Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has been forced to swallow many budget cuts over the last few years. When the last round of news concerning financial deficits hit ODNR this week, here was their
reluctant response.

Fiscal Year 2010 (beginning next week) a 30% cut in in the Division's budget
Fiscal Year 2011 (beginning July 1, 2010) ZERO FUNDING for the
Division of Natural Areas and Preserves

The proposed budget figures can be found at:
http://obm.ohio.gov/sectionpages/Budget/FY1011/BalancedBudgetFramework.aspx
DNAP's figures are in the PDF-link at the bottom of the page:
"Balance Sheet by Line Item" and near the top of page 7 of that PDF.

It is a large document but the message for DNAP is clear: for less
than 2 million dollars a year, the Ohio natural areas program could be
saved: 134 public nature preserves, 30,000 acres. Back in the
seventies the founders of the ARC worked at ODNR when the Division of
Natural Areas was born in the cradle of the environmental movement.
The founders were proud to bear witness to Ohio's new bold conception.
Shall we now bear the shared burden of watching its demise?

If you care about wilderness, about biodiversity, about the native
landscape that once covered Ohio, please act by contacting your
legislators and governor. The Division only has one chance to survive.
In addition, please email or call the budget conference committee
members directly. If the public doesn't respond with a loud and
collective outcry, the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves will
soon be gone. Over thirty years in the making, an entire division of
trained botanists, preserve stewards, maintenance staff, and
information line people. All of them gone. Here are the conference
committee members who are working on the budge for 2010 and 2011.

The conference committee members are:

Senator Mark Wagoner, Senate Building, Room #129, First Floor,
Columbus, Ohio 43215, Telephone: 614/466-8060
Email: SD02@senate.state.oh.us

Senator Dale Miller, Senate Building, Room #048, Ground Floor,
Columbus, Ohio 43215. Telephone: 614/466-5123
Email: SD23@maild.sen.state.oh.us

Senator John Carey, Senate Building, Room #127, First Floor,
Columbus, Ohio 43215, Telephone: 614/466-8156
Email: SD17@senate.state.oh.us

Representative Vernon Sykes, 77 S. High St, 13th Floor, Columbus, OH
43215-6111. Phone: (614) 466-3100. Fax: (614) 719-6944
Email: district44@ohr.state.oh.us

Representative Ron Amstutz, 77 S. High St, 10th Floor, Columbus, OH
43215-6111, Phone: (614) 466-1474. Fax: (614) 719-0003
Email: district03@ohr.state.oh.us

Representative Jay P. Goyal, 77 S. High St, 14th Floor, Columbus, OH
43215-6111, Phone: (614) 466-5802, Fax: (614) 719-3973
Email: district73@ohr.state.oh.us

We end this letter by giving credit where credit is due. Although
donors have been the Arc's primary source of land acquisition money,
the Division of Natural Areas has often assisted the Arc by supplying
25% of our acquisitions money through the purchase of a conservation
easements on exceptionally botanically-significant sites. In addition,
the Arc has benefited greatly from tax supported Clean Ohio funding.
Non-profits don't thrive in a vacuum. They thrive in partnership.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

The Arc of Appalachia Preserve System
Headquarters: Highlands Nature Sanctuary
7629 Cave Road, Bainbridge, OH 45612
937-365-0101
http://highlandssanctuary.org/
director@highlandssanctuary.org

Thanks for your help!
I'll go back to the birds on Thursday!
Dave