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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bonds for water and land protection

Big Push at Statehouse for Land and Water Bonds

By TIM FAULKNER/ News staff

PROVIDENCE — Supporters of the open space and water bonds are making a big push to get the attention of state legislators.

More than a dozen supporters for the two bond referendums, including two grade-schoolers, converged en masse at a House Finance Committee hearing March 20. All wore "Support Land, Farms, Clean Water" stickers.

Kaitlynn Slattery, 11, of Warwick, asked lawmakers to
keep Narragansett Bay clean and safe during recent
testimony. To her left is Jane Austin from
Save The Bay. (Tim Faulkner/ News)
Kaitlynn Slattery, 11, of Warwick, and Christopher McCarthy, 9, of Cranston, both told the committee that the state's natural resources are important for kids.

"Without the bay my summers wouldn't be as adventurous and as fun as they are," Kaitlynn said.

Christopher's father, John McCarthy, said he lost some 130 pounds by replacing soda with water and getting more excersice in state parks. "These resources keep more of us off the couch and active than people realize."

Both bonds would raise money for protecting the outdoors, and improving drinking water systems and wastewater treatment facilities. Using leverage and matching funds, the $20 million water bond, or Question 3, would translate into $45 million for repairs to sewage and water pipes, while maintaining reservoirs, rivers and Narragansett Bay.

The $25 million land bond, Question 4 on the ballot, was described as good for the economy, helping to protect beaches, historic sites, natural habitats and farmland. About 1,600 aces of agricultural land at 25 farms are waiting for funding to ensure protection, Rupert Friday of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council said. 

Rhode Islanders have overwhelming approved past referendums for protecting land, and support remains strong despite the poor economy, Friday said.

The Senate Finance Committee has already heard testimony for the bonds. The House will likely wait until late in the session to decide which bonds referendums make it on the November ballot.