Vote to Protect Maryland's Parks, Forests, and Open Space
Make Your Voice Heard on November 7, 2006
Vote to Protect Marylands Open Space
Horn Point, photo courtesy of Manuel Arrington
Urgent Action Needed
On Election Day, November 7, the Sierra Club urges you to vote YES on the Land Conservation ballot question (Question 1) to ensure that Marylands natural treasures and open space have the protection they deserve. Read on for more background, and information on how you can get involved.
Whats at Stake: Marylands State Lands in Jeopardy
Maryland was once the national leader and role model on planning and land conservation. Over the past four years, however, our state has slipped in the opposite direction. While funding for premier state programssuch as Program Open Space, the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, and Rural Legacy Programwas siphoned off for unrelated purposes, state officials started proceedings to sell off state owned forests and park land.
How Protected is Protected?
In 2004, Governor Robert Ehrlichs administration attempted to sell off 836 acres of environmentally sensitive state-owned lands in Southern Maryland to a politically-connected private developer. Public uproar led to investigation and subsequent reports by the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun, exposing the administrations intentions to sell off multiple holdings of state-owned open space land for private development, including:
· 215 acres of Rocks State Park, protected land around Kilgore Falls (Marylands second highest waterfall) that had been saved by the efforts of concerned Harford County students;[i]
· Horn Point 840 acres of university-owned property on Maryland's Eastern Shore on the Choptank River which the Washington Post called an ecological gem;[ii]
· 584 acres that form a buffer zone around Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County.[iii]
All told, records from the Department of Natural Resources identified almost 3,000 acres of state-owned lands that could be sold.
The past four years have seen open space protection funds siphoned off for other purposes and protected state lands slated for the auction block. We believe these backward steps happened in part, because of inadequate laws to protect our state owned conservation lands. On November 7, 2006, you can take action to ensure Maryland precious protected state lands are really protected.
The 2004 proposed sales of state owned conservation land prompted bipartisan action by the General Assembly to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot for November 2006. This amendment would provide greater protection---not to mention accountability and transparency---on any efforts to sell off Marylands precious open space by requiring the General Assembly to approve the sale or transfer of lands purchased for conservation. If passed, this measure would ultimately protect farms, parks, and open spaces for future generations.
What you can do:
- VOTE YES on state Question 1, the Land Conservation ballot question, on Tuesday November 7th, to ensure that Marylands natural treasures and open space have the protection they deserve.
- Tell your public officials that you want them to do more to identify and protect Marylands remaining undeveloped open space lands.
- Join the Sierra Clubs efforts to protect Marylands parks and open spaces. Call 301-277-7111
[i] Shady Dealing, Washington Post Editorial, Tuesday, November 16, 2004; Page A24
[ii] Ehrlich Planning To Sell Off More Land, Discussions Continue On Thousands of Acres, Matthew Mosk, Washington Post Saturday, November 13, 2004; Page B01
[iii] Portions of parks slated for sale, David Nitkin and Rona Kobell, Baltimore Sun, November 13, 2004