DEGRADING PUBLIC LANDS: HB 695 (SB 1158) and CS/HB 181 (SB 268)

If you believe that our public state lands –state parks, preserves, forests, wildlife management areas, and greenways and trails- should be protected against degradation and defacement, then you should take notice and pay careful attention to these bills.

CS/HB 695 (Ford and Smith) and it Senate companion SB 1185 (Evers) would allow the state to authorize exploration, development, and production of oil and gas on any onshore state land regardless of whether it is a park preserve, or forest, or environmentally valuable and sensitive.  This is presented as a potential state revenue producer. 

CS/HB 695 is now in the Appropriations Committee and has another referral to the State Affairs Committee.  SB 1185 has referrals to the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee, and Budget Committee.

CS/HB 181 (Slosberg) and its Senate companion CS/CS/ SB 268 (Wise) would allow the DEP to enter concession agreements with a private business or a not-for-profit for naming rights of state greenway and trail facilities or property, or for commercial sponsorship to be displayed on the facilities or property.  Signs or displays for advertising and public relations may be placed at trailheads, trail intersections, directional or distance markers, interpretative exhibits and parking areas.  One has to ask – will this bill enhance my outdoor, nature experience?  Will it even bolster the sale of walking shoes? The bill, if it passes, will be known as the “John Anthony Wilson Bicycle Safety Act”. 

CS/HB 181 is now in the Appropriations Committee and has a referral to the State Affairs Committee.  CS/CS/ SB 268 is ON THE AGENDA of the Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee for Feb. 6, 3:00 P.M. (This is the last committee.) 

Please contact the following senators: CS/CS/SB 268 Sponsor: Senator Steven Wise (R), Committee Chair: Senator Charles S. "Charlie" Dean, Sr. (R), Vice Chair: Senator Steve Oelrich (R), Members: Senator Nancy C. Detert (R)Senator Dennis L. Jones, D.C. (R)Senator Jack Latvala (R),Senator Nan H. Rich (D)Senator Eleanor Sobel (D). 

Estus Whitfield