Forever Green Tennessee

Forever Green Sticker

Overview

In 1991, the Tennessee Legislature added a small increase to Real Estate Transfer Fees to save parks, wetlands, woods, wildlife and waters. Dedicated funding generated from the transfer of real estate makes sense: As real estate is developed and new residents move to Tennessee, a small portion of the transfer fee that is paid when a deed is registered is then reinvested in the state. However, in 2003 and again in 2008, these “designated” funds were re-appropriated to help balance the State’s general budget. The legislation reinstates these funds in 2012, unless they are targeted and taken once again to balance the budget. This is not why these fees were established, and land conservation is needed now more than ever.

In 2010 the Forever Green Tennessee coalition was successful in keeping one-time, non-recurring funds in the Budget for the Real Estate Transfer Fees; however, we must go to bat at the legislature once again this year. In 2010 these important funds awarded nearly $3.6 million to local parks and recreation areas, in addition to approximately $4 million to the Fiery Gizzard Campaign, which helped preserve hundreds of acres in one of Tennessee’s most beautiful and popular hiking areas. When available, these funds work to preserve the BEST that Tennessee has to offer.

The Need


We need the $16 million in funding each year to keep Tennessee green and beautiful. We need it to ensure a healthy environment and a healthy economy. Farming employs about 342,000 Tennesseans, contributes $64 billion to our economy and 44% of our land area is in farms. Cost-share incentives for Tennessee farmers help keep our drinking water clean and help farmers with practical, on-the-ground projects that protect rivers and streams.
Kathleen and Senator Mark Norris
More than 25,000 projects have treated more than 720,000 acres! Tourism is the state’s second-largest industry, employing 181,000 Tennesseans and contributing $14.4 billion to our economy and $1 billion in local and state tax revenues. For every $1 invested in State Parks the state enjoys a $37 return! It is short-sighted not to keep this program fueling our economic engine. This tax represents less than 1/10th of 1% of our State’s $29 Billion budget. Tennessee is 7th worst in America for how quickly we are destroying forests and farms and chopping them up for roads and other development; we lose 80,000 acres each year! Shamefully, we are 50th nationwide in environmental spending. These funds are needed to save incredible scenic attractions that are at risk: Rocky Fork, Bluffs at Scott’s Gulf, Cummins Falls, Mississippi River Bluffs, segments of the Cumberland Trail, Rattlesnake Falls, Virgin Falls and more. Our quality of life, our water and wildlife, our future depends on these investments. Large tracts of land will never be more available than they are today. Also, Federal funds will be lost unless the State provides required matching dollars. Raiding these funds is a step backward in terms of stewardship of our land and responsible budgeting.

Successes of the Programs


These funds have leveraged investments from numerous sources including federal, city and county, non-governmental organizations, and private philanthropy. Approximately 240,000 acres have been acquired. These places make our communities more livable, more attractive to industry and tourism. Conservation projects make our environment healthier and our economy stronger.

To get involved, call Kathleen Williams,
Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation at 615-386-3171
kathleen@tenngreen.org


What makes Tennessee so special?


  • Compare Tennessee to other places on Earth and realize we live in paradise – “the greenest state in the land of the free.”
  • Tennessee is glorious because we’re located just south of where once the great ice sheets that scraped off most life in ice ages over two million years – stopped just north of us and missed Tennessee. So ancient species that were eliminated in Ohio still live in Tennessee.
  • Tennessee has the most fish, crayfish and mussel species on the continent. We support half of the freshwater species in the United States. Our Duck River has more kinds of fish per mile than any other river in North America.
  • Tennessee has more cave openings than any state in North America, with cathedrals to astound.
  • Tennessee has more species of trees than throughout all of Europe with 150 different kinds of native trees. Our garden blooms with them in the Spring and blazes with them in the Fall.
  • Our wildflowers and salamanders. Our elk and deer, wild turkeys and fox, black bear, river otters, squirrels that fly and bobcats that prowl and no one knows how many species of insects but they make our soils bountiful for use.
  • Travel some back road on a misty morning and see the dew rise over the good farm land still tended. The rows of bountiful cropland that Tennessee is blessed with to feed us and sustain us.

Please support the Tennessee Real Estate Transfer Funds to Forever Green Tennessee … for our woods, wildlife, clean water and for the benefit of future generations. If you love beautiful Tennessee, we are counting on YOU.