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6/4/2024 Cotter’s advocacy helps rescue land conservation funding
Representative’s proposal to include green space in bond added to budget bill
STATE HOUSE – Rep. Megan Cotter’s legislation to amend the proposed “green bond” that will be put before voters in November has been added to the amended budget bill approved by the House Finance Committee Friday. The bill will come before the full House for a vote Friday, June 7.

The Finance Committee added funding for several land conservation programs to the green bond to appear on November’s ballot: $5 million for the Agricultural Land Preservation Committee for farmland protection, $5 million to the Department of Environmental Management to bring the state open space program funding back to historic levels, and $3 million to DEM’s Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment to fund forest and habitat management on state property.

In the past, the state has usually funded all three of these programs through green bonds. At this point, that previous funding has been allocated, so without their inclusion in the proposed bond, the state would be cutting off further support.

The amendment is based on legislation (2024-H 7550) Representative Cotter introduced in February following submission of the governor’s budget proposal. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 10, Middletown, Newport, Little Compton, Tiverton) sponsored similar legislation (2024-S 2336) in the Senate.

“The legislature has typically used green bonds to promote important conservation projects, and it is our responsibility to keep those efforts from falling by the wayside. These bonds have very effectively supported Rhode Island’s efforts to preserve open space and protect our natural resources. The wide approval of these bonds each time they appear on the ballot tells us that preservation is a real priority for Rhode Islanders. I am very pleased that with this amendment, voters will once again have the opportunity to support open space,” said Representative Cotter (D-Dist. 39, Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton), who led a special House commission this year that worked to identify ways to improve forest management.

As it was originally proposed by the governor, the bond was for $50 million. The Finance Committee reduced some of the bond’s allocation for work at the Port of Davisville, and eliminated funding to repair Newport’s Cliff Walk that has now been awarded from federal funds, keeping the bond to $53 million even with the open space additions.

According to the independent, nonprofit conservation organization Highstead, every $1 of state funding spent on land conservation in New England returns between $4 and $11 in economic value from natural goods and services.

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923