The Nature Conservancy Supports State Budget
Budget will help improve Ohio’s water quality and natural resources.
Today Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed into law House Bill 166 - Ohio’s fiscal year 2020–2021 operating budget bill, which The Nature Conservancy (TNC) applauds for its water quality and natural resource appropriations.
The following statement can be attributed in full, or in part, to Bill Stanley, Ohio State Director for The Nature Conservancy:
“We are very pleased to see significant funding for both water quality and natural resources in House Bill 166 and want to thank the Administration and General Assembly for their commitment to our precious natural resources,” said Bill Stanley, Ohio state director for The Nature Conservancy.
We thank Governor DeWine for his H2Ohio water quality initiative, which received strong bi-partisan support and, if consistently funded over many years, represents a huge advancement in addressing the water quality issues that have been plaguing Ohio’s lakes and rivers. Since 2015, TNC, in partnership with the Ohio Farm Bureau and others, developed and advocated for the creation of a sustainable water fund to address the ongoing challenges of harmful algal blooms not just in Lake Erie but also the Ohio River and inland lakes. We are especially supportive of the $46.2M for nature-based restoration programs, such as creating wetlands to naturally filter out nutrients and sediment. Wetland restoration is a great investment that improves water quality while also creating wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. We appreciate the Conference Committee’s addition of a requirement that half of Ohio’s 2021 budget surplus is transferred to the H2Ohio fund. We also look forward to helping support the passage of HB 7, which would establish a trust for H2Ohio and satisfy the Governor’s vision for long-term, sustainable funding for water quality improvements. Currently the biennial budget provides only two years of funding for this vital program, along with an indefinite amount to be transferred to H2Ohio from the future budget surplus. HB 7 would ensure H2Ohio is able to survive beyond 2021 regardless of the budget surplus and will produce the tangible and lasting solutions to water quality that Ohioans deserve.
We are also pleased to see in Governor DeWine’s budget support for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, including $50M for the acquisition of a portion of AEP’s Recreation Lands and—at the request of several sportsman groups—an increase in fees for hunting and fishing permits and licenses to support the Division of Wildlife. We thank the Governor for his acknowledgement of the importance of the state’s natural resources.
While we are encouraged to see a slight increase in the operating budget for the Division of Forestry, we believe more money needs to be allocated to that division to combat the threat of invasive species and help support private landowners with their forest management needs. Over the past two decades the budget for the Division of Forestry has been cut by 75 percent, making it challenging for the Division of Forestry to manage for healthy, diverse forestlands.”
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.