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Editorial: Open space, agland funding deserve support

February 5, 2019

Gov. John Carney addressed Delaware’s General Assembly recently regarding his budget proposal for the next fiscal year. He put his money where his mouth was in many areas, but most notably, for this editorial, in protecting the state’s quality of life.

Carney proposed spending $20 million for open space and farmland preservation. In doing so, he is harnessing the strength of a solid economy to take steps that will pay benefits for many generations of Delawareans to come. After several years’ hiatus in significant funding due to a shrinking economy, this year’s recommendation thankfully comes on the heels of a similar $20 million commitment that made it into the FY2018-19 budget.

A major part of Delaware’s unique quality of life is the hundreds of thousands of acres of farm fields, forests, marshes, meadows and beaches that have been preserved; they not only support food production and recreation and related economies, but also the wildlife that helps define the Delaware experience. Birds and beasts are an important component of our state’s history and culture.

They deserve protection so we can continue to enjoy their company on our earthly home.

Delaware has long committed itself to conservation and preservation, and it shows. With development continuing and no end in sight, further preservation is what can help us hold things somewhat in balance. Open space infrastructure is real, and it doesn’t require anywhere near the expenditure of other public funding for infrastructure.

Austin Short of Delaware’s Department of Agriculture says interest is high this year among farmers for preservation programs.

“We are appraising over 250 farms for Aglands Preservation this year - the most we have appraised in over 15 years ... The Aglands Preservation Program has preserved nearly 900 farms totaling almost 125,000 acres (about 24 percent of Delaware’s total farmland) since first receiving funding in FY96.”

Gov. Carney’s proposal for open space and agland funding deserves full legislative support now that the economy is giving us an opportunity to leverage purchases. They will pay strong dividends long into the future.

 

  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Dennis Forney, publisher emeritus, and Laura Ritter, news editor, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, CoPublisher and Editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, CoPublisher and General Manager.