Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has signed a bill that will help produce more funds for the state’s outdoor recreation areas.
Senate Bill 75, which was passed by the General Assembly earlier this year, will change the way the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund is structured and managed.
The trust fund was created to help the state purchase park land, build and renovate playgrounds and develop new trails for hiking and biking. Projects are matched with funding from communities or grants.
“Due to declining investments, we’ve seen less ability to fund all those great kind of programs,” explained Ray Bivens, director of Delaware State Parks.
SB 75 changes the trust fund’s investment from cash to an endowment, meaning it will be invested in an effort to produce higher yields.
“We’re going to have conservative investment criteria, but it’s also going to be something better than cash and at a time when our resources are limited,” explained Gov. Jack Markell. “The idea of generating a little bit more money that we can put back into our parks year after year after year just makes a whole lot of sense.”
The bill will also reduce the matching grants component for local communities from 50 percent, down to 25 percent.
“We think with the additional yield that will be coming, we can sustain a greater percentage on our backs at the state level which will help local communities that we know sometimes struggle with resources to do these things,” said DNREC Secretary David Small.
The bill also creates an account which will provide $1 million a year to make infrastructure improvements to state parks as well as fish and wildlife areas across the state.
The Cash Management Policy Board and the state Treasurer’s office will continue to oversee the fund.