Editorial: Habitat funding still is needed

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2006

Recently state leaders decided not to hold a special legislative session to put together a constitutional amendment on the November ballot for dedicating money to wildlife habitat. That’s too bad.

During the session, the amendment, asking voters to dedicate an additional 3/8ths of a percent sales tax to hunting and fishing habitat, clean water, parks and trails, made it through the Senate but failed in the House by two votes.

It seemed during the session this long-needed measure would finally get off the ground. It was a simple concept, but our leaders failed us. Other interests backed into the proposed funding source, giving a share of revenue to the arts, public media and such. Then other plans surfaced and party members started fighting over those different plans.

In the end, nothing happened.

While we favor the arts and public media, we must point out that the need for land conservation cannot wait another two years. The funding should have been dedicated to land, water, parks and trails and nothing else. If we don’t secure our treasured landscapes now, they will become miniature mansions. Instead of cottonwoods, you’ll see barbecue grills.

Imagine Albert Lea today had we not had the foresight to preserve the property that is now Myre-Big Island State Park. It now serves as a quality-of-life attraction, benefiting our local economy.

This is the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes. We humans have taken plenty. Let’s make sure the main attraction &045; natural landscapes &045; remain in place so that as we grow, we grow smartly and in the right places.