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Governor Hogan Restores and Protects Funding for Land Conservation and Preservation Programs

photo of the bill signing Governor Larry Hogan signed HB 462, a bill that restores and protects state funding to transfer tax-funded land conservation, preservation and recreation programs, into law this morning at an event at the State House. Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton, Assistant Secretary Daryl Anthony, and Land Acquisition and Planning Director Emily Wilson were all in attendance.

The new law provides $60 million in new funding – $20 million in 2017 and $40 million in 2018 – for transfer tax-funded programs, such as the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Fund, and Rural Legacy and Program Open Space, and allocates funds for state land and park development, maintenance and recreation. This new funding was initially outlined in the governor’s budget back in January.

“This new funding will enhance our environment and natural resources as well as help us reach our Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement goals,” Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “This administration is dedicated to Chesapeake Bay restoration, land conservation and preservation, and the elimination of transfer tax raids.”

The law also requires that past transfers – totaling $90 million – be repaid with General Funds starting in 2018, and that additional repayments – totaling $152 million – be appropriated starting in 2021. The law also establishes new procedures for all future appropriations, reimbursements and transfers.

“This law was the result of collaboration between the administration and the legislature,” Belton said. “Maryland’s land preservation stakeholder groups should be commended for their efforts on restoring and protecting our critically-important land programs and services, which benefit all our citizens.”