To the Editor:
After due consideration, we have decided to write this open letter to the taxpayers/voters of Palo Alto County:
Are you aware of the attack by our Board of Supervisors on the Conservation Program for Palo Alto County? At a time when our citizens need to be aware of health and fitness concerns, the supervisors cut funding that will provide numerous forms of outdoor recreation for our families and staff to oversee these services. When we all need to be finding ways to attract visitors to Palo Alto County who might help support existing jobs and businesses, perhaps even encourage new businesses to start here, why are we cutting funding to an organization that helps create these opportunities??
Palo Alto County Conservation's program ranks sixteenth statewide - our Conservation Board and its employees oversee 2,600 acres of public land. This is not land which has been taken out of production, but land which has existed as woods, wetlands and prairies. Many of these acres have been gifted to our county at no cost to the taxpayers. Our supervisors would like to see these gifts stopped. In fact, it appears they would like to stop all conservation efforts in Palo Alto County. By cutting the budget our supervisors are doing their constituents a grave disservice.
Many of our local citizens have voiced their disapproval of these unnecessary budget cuts why is this happening ONLY to Conservation programs? However, our opinions have been largely ignored by the supervisors.
We have a wonderful conservation program with knowledgeable devoted staff to facilitate these programs. These same staff members have spent extensive personal time writing grants for further funding which have resulted in expanding their services to boaters, fishermen, hunters and campers. Every student in Palo Alto County benefits from their programs in the schools. We can all enjoy walking or riding bikes on the rail systems at Lost Island and at Five Island Lake.
Recent cuts to the Conservation budget have included a $16,943 reduction in January, followed by a further cut of $15,000 just last week, leaving the Conservation program operating at pre-2003 levels.
We live in one of the most attractive areas for recreation in this state let's not hide our lights under a bushel and allow our elected officials to downgrade this great effort to enhance our quality of life. Stay informed, contact your supervisors, attend supervisors' meetings. Let your voices be heard. Keep conservation strong!!!
(signed) Bob and Nancy Cozine