To the editor:
Lee County's 20/20 funding should not be raided or cut. You are violating the voters' trust and it is morally wrong to take any millage earnings away from this program or cut the millage. Why? The voters voted this program in and they trust that their vote will be honored and not violated.
We need, at least, around $100 million to maintain the land we have already bought into perpetuity. This fund pays for the 12 rangers who patrol 20/20 lands and keep them safe for all of us to visit. The other money goes into maintenance on the 20/20 lands. Destroying invasive species costs lots of money. The fund was at about $65 million which the Blue Ribbon Panel said that was not enough because the fund goes on after the program comes to an end. So it was built up for this reason. Remember, the rangers cannot be paid without this money or the lands maintained .
As far as buying land ,the County Commissioners buy this land by their vote. This new Commission has not bought much land. We should be looking at buying all of Edison Farms and all the Babcock Ranch in Lee County. This would deplete most of surplus 20/20 money that is in this fund.
Lastly, we had 22 people who came out and spoke to the Commissioners last year or so in favor of saving the 20/20 program in its entirety. We represented hundreds of thousands of people. I do not stand alone. I represent the more than 1,200 people in Audubon; 1,200 members of Sierra and thousands of others in other environmental organizations I belong to, all living in this area.
Please, call your commissioners tell them do not raid 20/20 funds or use the millage for the general funds.
Attend the budget meetings and speak up for the 20/20 program. That's the only way we will win this battle.
I speak for all the wild animals .
President of Audubon of SW FL