The state Legislature has raided $620,000 from the Legacy Land Conservation Program to help fund the Public Land Development Corp. (PLDC).
“The two entities are pursuing missions that are diametrically opposed, which is why it’s even more insulting,” said Legacy Lands Commissioner Carl Berg.
The Legacy program, supported by conveyance tax revenues, awards grants to community organizations and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) to purchase and protect lands that have cultural, historical, environmental, agricultural and recreational value. The PLDC, created last year by Act 55, is intended to fast-track private development of public lands.
Legacy Lands Coordinator Molly Schmidt says lawmakers diverted an additional $400,000 from the fund that was to pay for invasive species control and reforestation. In addition, the Leg removed another $360,000 to fund Act 54, which directs the DLNR to complete an inventory of lands under its authority, including the “ceded lands.” Such a mapping effort will help DLNR and PLDC develop a Public Land Optimization Plan (PLOP).
“It appears that the purpose of the mapping was so DLNR would know how much land they had to sell or develop under the PLDC,” Berg said.