Alabama must keep Forever Wild

Alabama State Representative Randy Davis (Republican-96) wrote an editorial for The Huntsville Times “Alabama must keep its Forever Wild law” (no link available yet):

…there is one piece of legislation that all Republicans and Democrats alike should commit to pass early this session.  The Forever Wild program was approved in 1992 with an overwhelming majority of 84 percent of Alabamians voting in support of its creation.  It’s even more popular today, but… the funding will sunset in 2012 unless reauthorized by the Legislature.

…These lands not only provide opportunities for all Alabamians to enjoy our great outdoors, but also create a significant impact on the local economies where these lands are located.

…This program generates significant economic development and tourism in Alabama that results in new jobs and increased revenue…  This makes Forever Wild, by far, a net positive when it comes to our state budget and the creation of new jobs for Alabamians.

Davis is sponsoring the Forever Wild law in its current form (“as is”) in the State House, joined by State Senator Scott Beason (Republican-17) in the Senate.  The “as is” part is important – last year some legislators wanted to raid the fund for road construction.

Protect Forever Wild is an organization working to pass the Forever Wild law:

Created in 1992 by a constitutional referendum that garnered 83 percent of the vote, Forever Wild is a program dedicated to preserving Alabama’s most beautiful and environmentally sensitive land, all while expanding the recreational opportunities available to the public.
 
Forever Wild keeps our water and air clean, protects our wildlife, and helps ensure that our children will have the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of our beautiful state.

I urge every member the Republican caucus to vote to reauthorize the Forever Wild law “as is”.  It’s the right thing to do…

7 thoughts on “Alabama must keep Forever Wild

  1. I agree completely. Forever Wild is a great program. Despite the disappointing decisions made by some in the GOP majority so far, I’m glad to see that at least a couple of them are taking the lead on this. Maybe that will help bring about a relatively pain-free passage of the reauthorization.

  2. While this may be a great program and might be something nice to have, it is not a necessity. Budgetary realities dictate that this program be axed until the fiscal house is in order. Period.

  3. State Senator Paul Sanford posted these (good) questions on Facebook:

    [QUOTE]Do not really have a problem with it. However, I have been asking what the initial goal of the program was and whether or not it has been accomplished, if not why? How much is enough land to hold? Does anyone calculate the federal land hold…ings in the preservation equation? What types of public access are available on Forever Wild holdings? Where is that list? Who did they purchase the land from and why (detailed reason)? Is it necessary to fund this program during financial shortfall, maybe that money could be used for other vital functions of government or not used at all? Sometimes even good govt programs have a lifespan, is the lifespan of this program over if not why (detail why)?

    Those are just a few questions I have about extending it for another 20 years, maybe it could be 5 or 10 years but everything should be on the table given our financial situation in Alabama.[/QUOTE]

  4. Johnny Reb – I don’t think that any program should be given a pass. Rep. Davis claimed that Forever Wild generates revenue for the State and while I believe him, I would like to see the details supporting that claim. Forever Wild preserves land that helps maintain water quality (which is a necessary, legitimate, and legally delegated state function). More benefits include protecting biological habitat and providing public parkland.

    I’d like to see a financial analysis of the program to see what kind of return we taxpayers get for our money.

    To answer some of Senator Sanford’s questions (PDFs at the link provide detailed lists of holdings, use, access, and conservation rationale):

    “Since its inception, the program has purchased lands for general recreation, nature preserves, additions to Wildlife Management Areas and state parks. Currently, the Board is focusing on acquisitions in central Alabama. Eighty-five (85) tracts totaling 222,611 acres located throughout the state have been acquired.”

    http://www.dcnr.state.al.us/public-lands/stateLands/foreverWild/

    Here’s an example:

    [QUOTE]THE WEHLE TRACT in Bullock County consists of 1,505 acres of rolling pine hills and hardwood branch bottoms that will be used for public recreation and a nature preserve. Approximately 640 acres are included in the adjacent Barbour County Wildlife Management Area. This purchase involved a discounted sale, whereby the landowner voluntarily sold the tract for 50% of the appraised value. Location: T12N, R26E, portions of Sections 6, 7, 8, 17 & 18 Mgmt. Objectives: Habitat conservation, outdoor recreation, scientific research and education Date Acquired: October 28, 1994 Property Value: approximately $2,000,000.[/QUOTE]

  5. Jay, I concur with your call for renewal.

    I’m not sure natural resource protection should be measured with a cold cost/benefit analysis, which is hard for an engineer who makes decisions based solely on data to say. I take a certain amount of pride in hailing from “Alabama the Beautiful.” I don’t really want to see it become “Alabama the Once Beautiful.”

    I like to hike and I’ve enjoyed exploring some of the Forever Wild acquired properties. Walls of Jericho is easily in my top three north Alabama hikes.

    • Brian – “pride” is a valuable intangible asset that is difficult to quantify, but recognizing ‘goodwill’ is an accepted accounting practice.

      Cost-benefit analysis doesn’t have to be cold – I’ve seen plenty of them that were hot messes.