The devastation in Haiti is monumental. Natural resources are, for lack of a better word, extinct there. The residents are suffering from not only the loss of life and structures, but also from the loss of trees, fresh water and other natural resources that would help them survive. If such a natural disaster happened in Tennessee — YES there would be loss of life and structure — but we WOULD be able to survive. Tennessee (for now) has an abundance of trees, fresh water, fish and wildlife. We could sustain ourselves. And that’s a lot to be thankful for.
HOWEVER, this may not always be the case. Tennessee is lucky to have such an abundance of wild areas and fresh-water lakes, rivers, and streams. But these wild areas are at risk. Tennessee is the 7th-worst state in the nation for how quickly we destroy forests and farms in order to make way for development. We lose 80,000 acres each year! Shamefully, we are 50th nationwide in environmental spending. We must reverse the damage. In order to ensure our clean, fresh water; prolific and abundant wild areas; and public lands for generations to come, we MUST step up to the plate NOW.
We have an opportunity directly in front of us. The Tennessee Real Estate Transfer Funds are set for automatic restoration in June 2010. However, they were also up for automatic restoration in 2008 but were “pulled” at the last minute and re-appropriated to the state’s general fund in order to balance the budget. These funds give approximately $20 Million per year to the state to conserve wetlands, wild areas, farms and clean water. Unfortunately, due to lack of uproar from the general public, these “dedicated” conservation funds are “easy pickin’s” when the state is up against ANOTHER budget shortfall. And 2010 is no different; the State is already forecasting a $1 Billion shortfall for the upcoming $29 Billion budget.
It’s a monumental task ahead of us, but if we band together we can make this work. How can you help? For starters, contact your state legislature and senator. (See the link to the right to find out who they are based on your zip code.) Urge them and the governor to restore the Tennessee Real Estate Transfer Funds. You can volunteer, contribute to the campaign, order a bumper sticker and/or yard sign. Tell your friends. Become our friend on Facebook. Spread the word. Join us for the environmentally themed “Day on the Hill” on February 23.
For more information on the campaign and the history of the funds, please visit http://www.tenngreen.org and click on the “Forever Green Tennessee” link.