Preserve open space to protect our future

Question Of The Month

November 27, 2004

Q: Do you think the state should be making more of an effort and spending more money to protect and preserve open space?

Yes, I think it is essential that the state make more of an effort to protect and preserve our remaining open space. This would not necessarily entail spending more money, just not getting more money by selling land to developers.

Our quality of life cannot be measured merely by the electronic gadgets we can manipulate.

Despite being able to push a wide variety of buttons, our kids can barely read. They are also the most obese in the industrialized world because they sit eating junk food fiddling with their iPods, etc., instead of getting out in the fresh (we wish!) air and walking places or running around.

Although we have overwhelming access to the "information superhighway," our actual highways are critically clogged arteries.

We can communicate with people across the planet in seconds, but try getting in and out of your local mall now that the holidays are upon us.

Parking in our traffic-logged cities is insanely expensive and usually inconvenient. Our country roads simply aren't country roads any more, having mostly become infested with row-homes and strip malls.

Places to enjoy nature are going the way of the dodo. Even our parks have been largely converted into playing fields.

We'd better do something now to stop the destruction of our green spaces.

Ingrid Krause

Baltimore

Without state programs to preserve open spaces in our state, economic pressures will eventually force the development of every square foot of land for either a residential or business purpose.

Then there will be no room for Little League games or a hike in the woods. Eventually, the need to grow our economy will deny our grandchildren any place free from our shopping centers, large single-family homes and apartment complexes.

Public land is for every citizen of our state to enjoy. Public land also provides a haven for the nonvoting animals in our state, such as reptiles, insects, birds and the nonhuman mammals.

We have developed for centuries in a way that looks out for no interests but our own.

Our state must have a wider view of land use and a longer-term view of protecting the most vital and limited resource we have - open space.

Robert Olsson

Baltimore

Maryland's nationally renowned land conservation programs are in crisis because of repeated and severe budget cuts and recent moves to sell some state lands.

Based on recent development trends, Maryland stands to lose more than 200,000 acres of farm and forest land in the next 15 years.

With a hot real estate market accelerating the pace of development and threatening Maryland's natural resources, now is not the time to put the brakes on land conservation.

Nor is this the time to reverse direction by putting state lands up for sale.

State-owned open space should not be viewed as disposable, income-generating assets. These lands were preserved because they were deemed valuable for protecting the environment, providing recreational opportunities for all Marylanders and sustaining our agricultural heritage. That has not changed.

Conserving land as farms, forests and parks accomplishes many goals.

These areas maintain their ability to filter and remove pollutants in stormwater runoff.

They sustain our ability to produce food and foster a strong rural economy.

They keep intact wildlife habitats essential to Maryland's biological diversity.

And these lands provide Marylanders with high-quality outdoor recreation venues.

One cannot put a price tag on these investments.

For the quality of life of current and future citizens and for the sake of the bay, Maryland must renew its land conservation efforts.

Kim Coble

Annapolis

The writer is Maryland executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

My response as a lifelong Maryland resident and registered voter to The Sun's question is a resounding "yes."

There are several sound reasons for this, beginning with the fact that this land does not belong to the present political administration to be used simply to generate revenue.

This land belongs to the residents of Maryland, who voted for and pay the salaries of those whose job it is to protect these irreplaceable resources for this generation and generations to come.

Once this land is gone - likely into the hands of developers - it can never be recovered.

Joe Bradley

Arbutus

As Maryland's population increases, the need to preserve Maryland's open spaces becomes even more crucial. This was the basis of the extraordinary vision displayed when Maryland enacted its nationally acclaimed Program Open Space law.

The genius of the law is that it pegs land acquisition funding to loss of land through its sale for development. Since the 1960s, this creative program has helped to purchase thousands of acres of Maryland forests and parks.

These lands provide many amenities that Marylanders cannot find elsewhere.

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