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Hogan backs land conservation

When a governor puts money back into Program Open Space, voters ought to take notice.

On behalf of the Chesapeake Conservancy, I applaud Gov. Larry Hogan for keeping his campaign promise to restore funding to Maryland's Program Open Space ("Hogan moves to keep campaign promise to protect money for new parks, but doesn't satisfy advocates," March 1).

Program Open Space is Maryland's leading conservation tool and how the state goes about creating new parks and playgrounds for children and more access to nature for everyone while conserving land and providing wildlife habitat. Recently, Governor Hogan signed legislation passed unanimously by the General Assembly which restores $150 million in short term funding and $270 million in long term funding that was diverted by previous administrations.

Maryland was ahead of its time when, more than 40 years ago, we started putting money aside for land conservation. The state's open space funds come from a transfer tax of .5 percent on real estate transactions and are specifically intended for the creation of parks and playgrounds and the protection of forests and farmland. For years, administrations have been diverting these dedicated funds to accomplish other priorities.

Maryland's human population is now over 6 million, and we are losing tens of thousands of acres of open space each year. We are grateful to have a governor who makes conservation a priority and hope that he continues this strong legislative approach to protecting Maryland's Program Open Space.

Joel Dunn, Annapolis

The writer is president and CEO of Chesapeake Conservancy.

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