How the Funding will work: Forever Green Tennessee

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How the Funding will work:

Forever Green Tennessee! Will conserve 4% more of Tennessee’s 27 million acres by 2050 in forested corridors to protect water; Conserve farmland and our history. For our children, wildlife, and economy.

Like our system of roads that provide vital infrastructure for industry, our conserved rivers are vital for our drinking water, for manufacturing, future development, our wildlife, and our economy. As a match for vital federal programs, $35 million per year is required to meet this challenge and Forever Green Tennessee!

River forests filter non-point source pollution, store water, and mitigate flooding. Tennessee’s 60,000 miles of rivers are at risk. Fifty percent (50%) of Tennessee’s 27,000 miles of rivers that have been tested are too polluted to swim or fish and this will worsen as Tennessee’s population increases to over 9 million by 2050. With 75% of endangered species found in Tennessee’s rivers, this IS a pro development proposal and will keep species from being listed and make TN’s continued growth possible.  A voluntary program that respects private property rights, Forever Green Tennessee will preserve the waters that green our land and our economy.

  • A $25 million Water Conservation Fund will be established from the State’s Reserve Funds and deposited with the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund. Grants will acquire conservation easements or fee land and water as identified on the TN Conservation Opportunities Map. Projects will conserve forested river buffers and headwaters, or aquifer recharge areas. This voluntary program will compensate willing sellers for conservation easements and the land will stay in private ownership or fee land acquisition where public access for WMA’s, state park, natural areas or city/county greenway parks is desired additionally. Public agencies, and non-profit organizations will be eligible.

    • Projects will be ranked with importance for drinking water, manufacturing, wildlife benefits, development pressure and funding leverage considered.

    • In lieu of tax payments will be made to counties for fee land acquired.

    • Modest overhead for grant administration and due diligence expenses will be allowed.

Additionally, conserving farmland and historic resources will conserve vital at risk resources and fuel our economy now and for the future. With more than 44,000 sites on the National Historic Register and 38 nationally-significant Civil War Battlefields, our rich historic places are at risk due to development pressure and population growth. Historic sites fuel tourism and rural economies.

  • A $5 million Historic Fund will be established and deposited with the TDEC Historic Commission for competitive grants.

    • Civil War Battlefields Fund would receive 64% of the proceeds to support preservation of TN’s 38 nationally significant Civil War Battlefields as designated by the American Battlefield Protection Program’s Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report on the Nation’s Civil War Battlefields (1993).

    • Funding may be made to private non-profits for matching non-state funding to acquire property or easements for the battlefield sites or for Underground Railroad sites.

    • Historic Preservation Fund would receive 36% of the proceeds to support preservation of significant TN historic sites, as approved by majority vote of THC.

    • Funds may also be used for capital projects grants to other historic properties not owned or operated by the State.

    • Modest overhead for grant administration and due diligence expenses to grantees is allowed.

From 2007 to 2014, more than 500,000 acres of farmland were fragmented and taken out of production.

3. A $5 million Farmland Preservation Fund will be deposited with the TN Department of Agriculture for competitive grants to conserve farmland easements.

  • Grants will be awarded in partnership with Tennessee Conservation Districts. Modest funding to TCD may support outreach.

  • Competitively scoring priority farms will consider threats, quality of soils/farm, and match component. Match from Federal Farmland Protection Program, donated value from landowners and/or private ngo fundraising will be encouraged.

  • Farm Conservation Plans for participating farms will be required.

    • Farmland Preservation Easements will be held by accredited land trusts or held by TN Dept. of Agriculture with guidelines established as accredited land trust guidelines.

    • TDA may administer grants to cities, counties, and accredited land trusts, including associated costs for conservation easement baselines, due diligence expense and stewardship funding.

For more information, call Kathleen Williams – 615- 838-3111

Budget amendment:

A $35 million fund is established to preserve forested corridors to protect water ($25 million); Conserve farmland ($5 million) and our history ($5 million). Funds from the General Fund will be deposited to the Tennessee Heritage Conservation Trust Fund. In cases of fee land purchase, in lieu of tax payments for property tax will be made to county governments.

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