"Forever Wild" program renewal on ballot - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

"Forever Wild" program renewal on ballot

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Alabama voters will decide whether to approve an amendment that would renew the Forever Wild program for another 20 years.  The program authorizes the state to use proceeds from oil and gas revenues in the Alabama Trust Fund to buy lands for public use.

More than 220,000 acres have been secured since the amendment was approved in 1992, and supporters said that has led to lasting benefits for the state.

"An example is the Master National Field Trials, which ended (Sunday) in on Forever Wild land in Hale County," said Tim Gothard, Executive Director of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.  "For 10 days, close to a thousand people were in that area and the economic impact of that event was between $6 and $8 million."

Opponents of the amendment have launched a grass-roots effort to encourage voters to vote no. They believe the money would be better used elsewhere, and that government should not be in the business of recreation.

"The government should be shedding itself of some of the resources in the economic downturn, rather than expanding their holdings," said Frank Dillman, operator of www.notforeverwild.org.

If the amendment is voted down, the funds used for the Forever Wild program would go back to the Trust Fund.  It would not be able to be used for the General Fund unless another constitutional amendment is passed. 

For more information on the program, you can visit www.alabamaforeverwild.com.  

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