Gov. Larry Hogan has once again demonstrated strong leadership to conserve our natural resources by staying true to his campaign promise to restore Program Open Space. This year's approved state budget includes a total of approximately $127 million for land conservation and recreation programs. On behalf of the Chesapeake Conservancy, we applaud his commitment to conservation ("Tallying Hogan's $3 billion investment in the Chesapeake Bay," April 1).
Program Open Space is a dedicated fund for the expressed purposed of acquiring outdoor recreation and open space areas for public use. While the program has been repeatedly raided for other purposes, last year Governor Hogan collaborated with members of the Maryland General Assembly to pass legislation to stop the diversions. Thankfully, we will now have more parks, playgrounds, forests and farmlands.
The Hogan administration has recognized that conservation is a fundamental part of Maryland culture. We highly value our landscapes, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay. You may not agree with every management decision he has made, but it is clear to me that Governor Hogan is in tune with our community's multi-generational commitment to protect and restore our environment. He is also keenly aware that there are profound economic and fiscal benefits to land and water conservation.
Indeed, Maryland's outdoor recreation sector annually generates $9.5 billion in consumer spending, $2.8 billion in wages and salaries, $686 million in state and local tax revenue and 85,000 jobs in the state, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. This is the direct result of the 5,900 local parks and 331,000 acres of state land protected by Program Open Space for playing, hunting, fishing, camping and hiking. By following through on his promise to restore land conservation and recreation programs, Governor Hogan is protecting our portion of the planet and creating a strong economy for current and future generations.
Joel Dunn, Annapolis
The writer is president and CEO of the Chesapeake Conservancy.