Indiana Audubon and partner Indiana Conservation Alliance encourages you to support state HB 1001, now under consideration in the Indiana Senate. We’re also seeking line item appropriations of $10 million a year for the President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust, and $8 million a year for the State Wildlife Action Plan. The House-passed budget bill version already contains a $150 million line item for deferred maintenance at all state facilities, including DNR properties.

There’s still time to reach your state senator and your state representative and urge them to support the conservation appropriations to invest in Indiana’s outdoor heritage and our natural resources.

In the last two weeks, the U.S. Congress approved a landmark new natural resources bill — S.47 — that will provide protection for millions of acres of public lands, improve public access to federal lands, and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the nation’s preeminent land and water conservation program. S. 47 received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing by a vote of 92 to 8 in the U.S. Senate, and by a vote of 363 to 62 in the U.S. House. In these times when Congress struggles to agree on much of anything, this outcome is clearly remarkable. We feel confident that the bill will be signed by the President.

It has been 7 years since then Governor Daniels established the Bicentennial Nature Trust. This highly successful program has reached its end and all its funds have been committed. The President Benjamin Harrison Conservation Trust (formerly the Indiana Heritage Trust) has not received a meaningful general fund appropriation since 2009. Revenue from the environmental license plate, dedicated to the Harrison Conservation Trust, has declined by over 50% in the last twenty years — dropping from $1.9 million in 1998 to $955,000 a year in the coming biennium — due to the growth in the number of specialty plates being offered.

The $61 million in state funding provided to the President Harrison Conservation Trust/Indiana Heritage Trust since 1993 has leveraged $74 million in private/partner contributions. The program’s 504 projects completed through 2016 protected 70,100 acres (Indiana DNR). For every dollar invested in the Bicentennial Nature Trust, it leveraged $2.32 in private funding ($20 million state funds, $46.4 million private funds including $10 million Lilly Endowment).

Consider supporting these conservation efforts and advocate for both the birds and our natural resources in the current session.  Find your legislators and their contact info here:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators

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