Environmental groups press Indiana lawmakers
By Matt Mikus email@example.com January 23, 2013 7:20PM
Updated: February 25, 2013 12:59PM
INDIANAPOLIS — Members of 28 environmental groups that form the Indiana Conservation Alliance shared their concerns Wednesday at the Statehouse, asking lawmakers to increase funding for land conservancies, restrict the use of phosphorus in lawn fertilizers and ban the practice of “canned” deer hunting.
“We gather together once every year to share our concerns with lawmakers,” said Nicole Barker, director of Save The Dunes.
This year, the group will lobby for more state money for the Indiana Heritage Fund. The state generates revenue for the fund through budget appropriations and license plate sales. The alliance is asking for a larger appropriation, from $100,000 to $2 million, matching each dollar raised by licenses plates sales.
The Indiana Heritage Fund has helped preserve nearly 58,000 acres, and a slow economy offers opportunity to preserve more land.
“Especially in a down economy,” Barker said, “there’s land for sale and lots of value in conservation, so now’s the time to jump at the opportunity.”
They also want to see $2.5 million designated to the Bicentennial Nature Trust established by former Gov. Mitch Daniels in 2012.
Added funds to Clean Water Indiana would help protect clean rivers and lakes, cutting down on polluted storm water runoff.
Legislation in the General Assembly to restrict lawn fertilizers using phosphorus is also a priority for the group. More than 7,000 lake acres are polluted with phosphorus, which can cause toxic blue-green algae blooms, making waters unsafe for wildlife or recreational use.
They hope the legislation can help provide for consumer education, to help explain the link between phosphorous runoff and the algae blooms.
Jim Sweeney of the Izaak Walton League Porter County Chapter, said a bill in the House to expand “canned hunting,” where deer are kept in fenced areas for hunting, is unethical and unsportsmanlike.
“They set it up so it’s easier to shoot the animal,” Sweeney said. “It’s no longer a sport at that point.”
It can also threaten to spread disease, like chronic wasting disease, that could threaten the recreational sport that generates up to $400 million annually for the state.