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News Release

RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release:

January 18, 2000


Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418


PROVIDENCE - Governor Lincoln Almond today announced Open Space 2000, a public awareness and information campaign aimed at getting his proposed $50 million open space bond issue on the November 2000 ballot and approved by voters. The open space bond would be used to purchase 31,000 acres of open space by the year 2010, and will accelerate the state's plan to preserve and protect critical lands throughout Rhode Island.

"Today I am continuing my push for a $50 million open space bond issue for the November ballot," said Almond. "Five years ago, I was proud to support the State Greenspace and Greenway Plan, which identified the need to safeguard an additional 35 thousand acres of parkland, forests and open space by the year 2020. That has given us a blueprint to meet the challenges before us. The bond issue I'm proposing will enable us to achieve this goal by 2010. That means we'll be putting this issue on the fast track and we'll be getting the job done a decade ahead of time."

Almond was joined in making the announcement by Open Space 2000 campaign co-chairpersons Trudy Coxe and Bob Gilbane, and a coalition of partners and supporters. Coxe, CEO of the Preservation Society of Newport, former secretary of environmental affairs in Massachusetts, and former executive director of Rhode Island Save the Bay, will join Gilbane, president and CEO of Gilbane Properties, Inc., Grow Smart Rhode Island Board of Directors, and chairman, Board of Advisors, Rhode Island branch of The Nature Conservancy in heading up the effort.

The Open Space 2000 campaign is a cooperative partnership between state government, Rhode Island's cities and towns, land trusts, non-profit organizations and the business sector, including chambers of commerce and local tourism offices.

The $50 million open space bond would provide funds to local communities, land trusts, and the state to purchase important open space areas. The bond would also leverage additional matching funds from local communities, private foundations and the federal government, to give the state the means to aggressively protect its scenic resources, natural habitat, watersheds, farms and forests.

Specifically, the $50 million bond would be used as follows:

  • $25million will be used for the state acquisition program, to continue the drive to preserve 35,000 acres of open space by 2010. $800,000 of that amount would be set aside for planning grants of up to $20,000 each to municipalities, to develop comprehensive strategies to meet preservation and open space needs. Since 1995, 4,000 acres of open space have been acquired.
  • $15 million will be dedicated toward local land acquisition programs, providing 50 percent matching grants toward local park acquisitions and expansion.
  • $10 million will be allocated for recreational development in communities.

Almond pointed out that historically, Rhode Island voters have overwhelmingly supported every open space preservation bond issue that has been placed on the ballot. Over the past 35 years, since the creation of the Green Acres Plan by then-Governor John Chafee, 25,000 acres of land have been protected throughout Rhode Island.

Governor Almond thanked the 20-member Open Space 2000 campaign steering committee for its commitment to this important statewide preservation effort. The committee is comprised of representatives from the Governor's office, the Senate and House Policy offices, RI Statewide Planning, DEM, U.S. Senator Lincoln Chafee's office, The Nature Conservancy, the RI Audubon Society, The Trust for Public Land, Grow Smart Rhode Island, Save the Bay, and the Aquidneck Island Land Trust.

"If you ask any Rhode Islander why they choose to live and work here, one of their top reasons is our natural heritage - our parks, beaches, farmland and open space. We've grown up in a state where a drive to the ocean is just 20 minutes away; where you can walk to a beautiful park. That's the Rhode Island our parents have come to know and love. That's the Rhode Island that we want to pass down to generations to come," said Almond.

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