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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Outdoor pursuits and budget cuts...

In a recent letter to the South Carolina General Assembly, the following comments were made:

“A thriving economy and the future health and prosperity of South Carolina depend on our commitment to our water and air, our natural areas, our farms and forests, our wildlife and our scenic vistas. These assets are important to all South Carolinians and are intended to be passed along to future generations in as good and hopefully better shape than we found them. Whether it is hunting for white-tailed deer or turkey, fishing for spot-tail bass, or hiking one of the many trails that crisscross our state, outdoor pursuits are a deep tradition in our state.

Forestry, farming, outdoor recreation and tourism are the largest sectors of South Carolina’s economy, contributing $54 billion annually and accounting for about 463,000 jobs. This means that land and water resources are responsible for nearly a third of our state’s economy and roughly one in four jobs.”

That’s the positive. The negative is that the five agencies charged with the stewardship of these precious public resources (Department of Natural Resources (DNR), SC Department of Parks Recreation, and Tourism (PRT), SC Forestry Commission, SC Conservation Bank and SC Department of Agriculture) have seen their budgets slashed in recent years. These cuts threaten their core operations. Less than 1% of the entire state’s budget goes to these agencies. We need to be, as a state, focused on generating revenue and jobs rather than having to constantly cut expenses. Imagine what these agencies could do to “sell” South Carolina through promotion of the SC Certified program, just one example, and job generation if they were adequately funded!!

I urge you to contact your local representative in the Statehouse. Let them know your concern.

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