Let’s Quit Letting Natural Resources Crumble

The new year this time around brings a new political
administration in Columbus, and it is an opportune time to talk
about the 600-pound gorilla in the living room – how to fund the
Ohio DNR.

This subject seems dry as a corncob left too long in the sun,
but it inevitably is tied to your hunting fishing, camping, hiking,
forest products, oil and gas, the very land and waters we depend on
for life.

Even though some of the divisions within the DNR essentially are
self-funded – most notably wildlife and watercraft through such
user-fees as license, permits, and registration – many of the
divisions are ever dependent on the whims and priorities of the
State Legislature and Governor’s office for general tax-revenue
funds. And even the user fee-funded divisions suffer collateral
damage when the rest of the DNR starves.

Translation: they are at the end of the line and usually get the
crumbs. That’s why such divisions as parks and recreation have $500
million or more in maintenance backlogs, and 134 valuable nature
preserves (30,000 treasured acres) are overseen by a staff of about
10 that is relying on donations – donations! – to keep afloat. That
is political negligence bordering on criminal.

It is all well and good to have public lands and facilities, from
hunting areas to parks and preserves, but they must be managed and
maintained. You don’t run your truck without changing the oil and
putting on new tires when they are worn out, do you? But for
decades now, our politicians of both red and blue stripes have
kicked the can down the road while they run the state’s natural
resources into the ground, poorly maintained and funded.

Take it to the bank that we’ll be hearing nothing much out of Gov.
John Kasich and the General Assembly, our lawmakers, but
cut-cut-cut when it comes to taxes, programs, and personnel as they
grapple with an $8 to $10 billion budget deficit that many years
and several administrations and State Legislatures have helped
create.

For more on this story, read the Jan. 21 edition of Ohio
Outdoor News.

 

Categories: Ohio – Steve Pollick

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