While Alabama voters may have been split on other issues, this Election Day they came together on the issue of conservation by passing Amendment 1, which will provide up to $15 million per year for the next 20 years to the Forever Wild Land Trust program.
The Nature Conservancy provided significant support in the effort to renew Forever Wild. “We are thrilled that the citizens of Alabama recognized the importance of Forever Wild to the future of our state,” said Chris Oberholster, State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Alabama. “We knew from initial polling that water quality and access to outdoor recreation really resonate with people.”
A national poll conducted by The Nature Conservancy in June 2012 reinforces the results at the ballot box. A bipartisan team of pollsters found that 87 percent of the American public agreed that land and water conservation was an essential part of their state’s quality of life; 74 percent agreed that even with federal budget problems, land and water funding should not be cut; 83 percent were willing to pay additional taxes for conservation; and more than four-in-five voters said that conserving our country's natural resources is patriotic. This support bridges partisan, regional, and demographic divides.
Chris Oberholster added, “There is mainstream support for wise use and protection of the lands and waters we all rely on for our quality of life and our livelihoods. In Alabama, this broad-based support was seen in the highly diverse coalition of some 200 businesses as well as outdoor, recreational, environmental and community organizations which mobilized to continue the Forever Wild program.”
Since 1992, The Conservancy has worked closely with the state’s Forever Wild program to set aside thousands of acres of our natural heritage as public lands for conservation and outdoor recreation. Many of the 145,000 acres protected by the Conservancy, including some of the state’s greatest outdoor landmarks, later became part of Forever Wild Land Trust’s acquisitions of 223,000 acres across 22 counties in the state. The Mobile-Tensaw Delta, Walls of Jericho, the Red Hills, Grand Bay Savanna, Little River Canyon, Old Cahawba Prairie, Perdido River and more have all been protected for future generations.
The success of the Conservancy’s mission depends on being able to protect critical lands at a significant scale. Partnering with Forever Wild is a win for the people and natural heritage of Alabama. With only four percent of its area in public conservation lands, Alabama trails the rest of the Southeast and the nation. These lands play a critical role in helping provide clean water, manage floods and storm surges and contribute to economic development through tourism and the outdoor recreation industry. They also provide improved quality of life benefits for Alabama’s citizens in the form of easy access to hiking, fishing, canoeing, hunting, bird watching and other outdoor activities.
“As we see time and again, conservation is an issue that unites the American people. American voters clearly see the value of nature in supporting clean air and water, local economies, storm and flood protection, jobs, healthy communities and recreation,” said Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy. “This election presents an open invitation for legislators to break through the partisan logjam that has stalled our nation for too long. If they want to achieve progress on critical issues and represent the desires of their constituents, support for conservation is a clear choice.”
In 1991, The Conservancy played a leadership role in the efforts to create the Forever Wild program along with other groups, which led voters to pass the original Amendment with 83% voter approval.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
The Nature Conservancy in Alabama
205 251 1155, ext 112