Excerpts from Sierra Club activist alerts posted on asmainegoes.com 2/20/99. The Clinton-Gore "Land Legacy" agenda is the administration's version of CARA. These excerpts show the Sierra Club acknowledging to its activist membership how radical the plans are --

"Green, bold and not the all-too-usual half-loaf"



Sierra Club, Land Trust Alliance Ecstatic

Over Plans for Massive Government Funding for Land Acquisition

 

[Note: AMG received these items from a reader. It's a lot of information, highly useful, that makes clear that Mainers who cherish private land and property rights have a well-financed, high taxpayer-financed stakes battle ahead.]

Sierra Club DEFENDING THE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA Jan. 14, 1999

"Be realistic. Demand the impossible."
--English translation of protester's sign during student rebellion in Paris, 1968

A FULL LOAF
Club Praises Clinton Bold Initiatives on Sprawl, Land Purchases

Below is Carl Pope's memo on the two packages announced this week:

Great news! Not only has the Clinton administration just announced two billion-dollar environmental initiatives, but the initiatives are sound, green, bold and not the all-too-usual, half-loaf. Moreover, these administration proposals dovetail with our sprawl and wildlands priorities.

This offers us a real opportunity to maximize the public education on these issues, and increases our chance of making real, on-the-ground progress this year. And last but not least, they will showcase the Sierra Club's grassroots efforts on these two priority areas.

On Monday (Jan. 11), Vice President Al Gore unveiled a $1 billion sprawl initiative, targeted toward smart growth and protection of open spaces.

Tuesday Clinton announced a $1.3 billion "land legacy" initiative that calls for full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, plus forest-legacy funding, coastal-protection funding and additional open-space money.

Clinton highlighted some nationally prominent areas that would be protected by such purchases -- the Everglades, New England forests, the Mojave and the Lewis and Clark corridor. But it's not just about the grand areas. Clinton added that the initiative also aims "to protect the small but sacred green and open spaces closer to home."

The Clinton announcement on LWCF started in play a very savvy strategy. The funding for this year is from discretionary spending, but Clinton challenged Congress, and announced that the next budget would contain a proposal to make the LWCF a mandatory appropriation.

Together, these two budget initiatives comprise the largest new spending proposals in the president's budget (except for defense).

This means that these environmental initiatives are very high priorities within the budget. This is a first for this administration, and excellent news for us.

*****************************TAKE ACTION*******************************

Write a letter-to-the-editor praising the Land Legacy Initiative

Stress the fact that this investment will help us protect threatened special natural places like the California Desert, the Everglades, the Maine Woods, the Lewis and Clark corridor in the Northwest.

In addition, this proposed funding increase will be used to protect wild places near local communities.

Say that this initiative will help reduce a substantial backlog in proposed purchases.

The administration has outlined a broad and complex proposal, and the Sierra Club strongly supports the goal.

There are many details to be ironed out, and we look forward to working with the Administration and the Congress to perfect the mechanics of this bold proposal.

**********************THANKS FOR YOUR ACTION******************************

For a more detailed look at the proposals, see "MORE ON THE INITIATIVES" below.

MAKING THE NEWS
The Sierra Club "All Over" Initiatives Coverage

The good news wasn't limited to the announcements of these initiatives. Despite the huge shadow of the impeachment trial, these initiatives received broad coverage from the media, and the Club's take on them was prominently featured.

In an Associated Press story that ran in more than 40 newspapers, Carl Pope was quoted emphasizing the need for "a very major increase in federal funding for land acquisition."

The clips are still coming in, but it looks like the Club was the most often quoted environmental organization in these stories.

Other publications featuring the initiatives and the Club's position included the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today.

More than 100 radio stations played a clip of Pope's quote on the initiatives.

MORE ON THE INITIATIVES

Here's a memo prepared by the Russell Shay of The Land Trust Alliance describing the two initiatives in more detail:

Livable Communities Initiative

On Jan. 11, Vice President Gore announced a proposal for a series of Livable Communities initiatives that will be included in the Clinton administration's budget for fiscal year 2000. The centerpiece is a proposal to create a new financial instrument to help towns, cities, counties, states and land trusts acquire open space or undertake other "smart growth" projects.

Essentially, they are proposing that Congress pass legislation that would create $700 million in tax credits over five years, which could be used in lieu of interest payments for bonds for land acquisition, brownfield development, park restoration, or other projects. The bondholders would not be paid interest -- they would receive the equivalent of interest in tax credits.

Those tax credits could be enough to support a total of as much as $9.5 billion in bond authority.

Among the other elements of the vice president's proposal:

--a $50 million matching fund for local partnerships to design and pursue smart growth strategies across jurisdictional lines, run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development;

--a budget request for a record $6.1 billion for mass transit;

--a request for $1.6 billion for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program under TEA-21 (the transportation bill passed last year);

--a $10 million grant program by the Department of Education to encourage school
districts to involve communities in planning new schools (with an eye to placing
schools in community centers and utilizing their facilities for various community activities);

--a $50 million program for sharing crime information regionally.

Lands Legacy Initiative

On Jan. 12, President Clinton unveiled a proposal to reformulate the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with higher spending levels for federal land acquisition, funds for states to use to acquire open space, and funds for open space planning by state and regional entities.

The "Lands Legacy Initiative," contained in the Administration's fiscal year 2000 budget will include the following:

--$150 million in matching grants for states, local governments and land trusts for land protection and acquisition. Grants will be awarded to states on a competitive basis and priority will be given to smart- growth initiatives;

--$442 million for federal Land and Water Conservation Fund projects. Priorities include adding 100,000 acres to national forests and refuges in the Northern Forest (in New England), acquiring 450,000 acres in the Mojave Desert, acquiring lands in the Everglades, protecting the Lewis and Clark Trail, and acquiring lands to commemorate Civil War battlefields;

--$50 million for the Forest Legacy Program, which purchases conservation easements on private forest lands (including working forests) threatened with development;

--$150 million to protect oceans and coastlinesL, $90 of which will be directed to states to protect/restore coastlines and coastal wetlands, $45 million to restore fisheries, coral reefs, and marine habitat, and $29 million for national marine sanctuaries;

--$50 million in grants to states to develop open space plans and "smart growth" strategies;

--$4 million for matching grants to communities to fund renovation of parks in urban neighborhoods;

--$50 million for the Farmland Protection Program to purchase easements on farmland and open space threatened with development;

--$40 million to maintain and expand urban and community forests through the Urban and Community Forestry Program; and

--$80 million for the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund to help state and local land acquisition to protect endangered species.

Both of these initiatives are paid for within the existing budget caps. They don't come from the budget "surplus," nor at the expense of other natural resource budgets. The Administration will seek these funds as part of the appropriations process this year.

Even more importantly, the president made a commitment to seek legislation making funding for the Lands Legacy Initiative permanent in the future.

All of these are fantastic ideas -- BUT THEY NEED APPROVAL OF THE CONGRESS, which will only be achieved with a concerted effort from the conservation community and from municipal, county and state government leaders.

There are two important pieces of news in this that shouldn't be lost sight of:

One is that this Administration has stepped up to the plate on sprawl, figured out that open space acquisition is an important part of dealing with growth. The EPA has fought hardest to be the home for this issue in the federal government.

The other point is that the Administration has determined to fight for increased funding for land acquisition this year, and to fight for a PERMANENT increase in land acquisition and parks funding -- not just for federal agencies, but for state and local governments, as well.

Sierra Club DEFENDING THE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA January 22, 1999

"If you want to build a big house in Bhutan, it's going to take a long time."
--Thinley Dorjee, a ranger in Bhutan where logging is strictly limited to sustainable levels, and where, by law, forest must cover no less than 60% of the country.

TAKE ACTION:

Write your Representative and Senators and urge them to support the Lands Legacy Initiative in the upcoming appropriations process. Let them know that the President's initiative represents the overwhelming support among the American public for protecting our special wild places. The initiative can't miss with constituents, because this far-reaching proposal seeks to protect a broad range of our natural heritage from the most remote wildlands to the "small and sacred" green areas closer to home. For more information, read the story below.

THANK YOU!

Landmark Initiative Deserves Congressional Support

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Clinton reaffirmed the Administration's commitment to protecting our nation's natural treasures. The President told the nation that the recently proposed "Lands Legacy Initiative" is a top priority. Our next step is to ensure that this landmark initiative gets the support in Congress that it deserves!

The Lands Legacy Initiative will provide a tremendous boost to our Wildlands Campaign by recognizing the importance of protecting our most grand wild places. The proposal increases federal land acquisition funding to $442 million, and would provide for land acquisition in California's Mojave Desert, New England national forests and wildlife refuges, and the Florida Everglades, among others. In addition, it calls on Congress to grant permanent wilderness designation for over 5 million acres in some of our most valued national parks, refuges and monuments.

At the same time, the initiative stresses the need to preserve natural wonders in our very backyards, by providing $588 million to state and local governments, private lands trusts, and other non-profit groups for land acquisition, forest habitat protection, urban park restoration, and other open space and species protection initiatives. Finally, the initiative includes funds for federal and state efforts to protect valuable ocean and coastal resources.

The initiative includes a $900 million funding request for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, marking the first time an Administration has requested full funding for the LWCF. Moreover, the Initiative presents a commitment to seek legislation to take the LWCF "off-budget," virtually guaranteeing its full funding in the future!

The "Lands Legacy Initiative" will help ensure the protection of our natural treasures -- from neighborhood parks, to our national wildlands. Contact your Representative and Senators in congress to voice your support of this far-reaching proposal.

Sierra Club DEFENDING THE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA January 15, 1999

"A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain." From the Wilderness Act of 1964, written by Howard Zahniser

Sierra Club DEFENDING THE ENVIRONMENTAL AGENDA February 9, 1999

"Multiple use does not mean we should do everything on every acre simply because we can. We must protect the last best places and restore the rest."
US Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck - Feb. 3, 1999