Lets Get Serious about Land Preservation
Dear Bay Weekly:
Thanks for your editorial, Preserving Land: A King-Sized Issue For Our Times [Vol. X, No. 41, Oct. 10].
The outlook for land preservation in Anne Arundel County is indeed grim but not hopeless. According to the Small Area Plan for South County, some 40,000 acres need protection. Assuming the 10,000 acres protected to date are included in that figure, we have 30,000 acres remaining to be protected. The current incremental approach relies exclusively on the purchase of easements and will leave tens of thousands of acres of Anne Arundel Countys farms, forests and wetlands vulnerable for decades to come.
At current pace, 1,000 acres per year, Anne Arundel County has no hope of stemming the tide of sprawl predicted by serious research as the single most important issue to Anne Arundel citizens.
If all we want are a few scenic vistas, the current approach will do. We may have already preserved enough land.
If we want to avoid the financial costs to the public of sprawl development, we have to know what these costs are. The recent examination of impact fees by the county government was a step in the right direction. Sadly, there was no leadership to see that fees actually cover costs. The costs havent disappeared, they just become socialized to all the other tax payers through higher taxes or a degraded quality of life.
If we rely on the techniques of the past, we certainly will do no better and will likely do worse as state and county budgets tighten. We desperately need some new ideas if this job is to actually be accomplished. How about a hard look at:
- Transferable development rights, an approach that leverages private capital to protect targeted lands? Its been used with some success in Montgomery County for many years.
- A Special Benefit District for South County Land Preservation. There are dozens of special benefit districts throughout Anne Arundel County established by citizen groups to pay for services not provided by the county. People might be willing to pay a modest addition to their property tax for this purpose. Revenues could be dedicated to debt service on bonds that would fund preservation easements on a meaningful scale. We need leadership that will do the math and explore the possibilities.
Surely, there are other ideas and techniques in use around the country or the world. Lets get serious about this and make a real impact or stop pretending that the current approach will ever stop the tidal wave of sprawl now breaking over Edgewater.
Michael Lofton, Harwood
Giant Squid Get Their Due
Dear Bay Weekly:
Re your story on the Giant Squid discovered in Spain [Creature Feature, Vol. X, No. 42, Oct. 17]:
The fact is that science did not acknowledge giant squid until two years ago, even though there was photographic evidence in a U.S.-made motion picture in 1970 called Orca. The crew of that movie wanted to film a scene where an Orca attacks a great white shark, so they went to the Perth, Australia, area to film a great white and then edit in the whale. In the process of filming the great white, they also filmed a dead giant squid, which was disregarded since the scientific community had not discovered it. Two years ago, two giant squid were recovered off the coast of Tasmania, and the scientific community woke up. The giant squid is said to be part of the sperm-whale diet.
Bill Loftin [email protected]
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