Voters to consider twelve amendments for election

Published 4:45 pm Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Along with voting for President and several other offices in the Nov. 6 election, voters will also be considering 11 statewide amendments to the Alabama Constitution and one local amendment for Marengo County.

Local Amendment 1 – This proposal is for Marengo County only, and will change the method of paying the probate judge from 90 percent of the district judge’s salary to a method based on population. The current probate judge, Cindy Neilson, who is not seeking re-election, makes $133,867. The new salary would be $88,877. The lower pay will take effect with the new probate judge.

Below is a summary of each statewide amendment using information provided by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, who seek to provide objective, non-partisan information that will lead to the improvement of state and local government in Alabama.

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Statewide Amendment 1 – This proposal seeks to extend the state’s land preservation program, Forever Wild, for another 20-year period. Created in 1992, Forever Wild receives 10 percent of the earnings of the state’s oil and gas trust fund, up to a cap of $15 million annually. It uses the proceeds to preserve land with ecological or recreational value.

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Forever Wild has received $193 million over its initial 20-year term and preserved 231,000 acres.

Forever Wild often matches its own money with grants from federal land and forest preservation programs as well with grants and donations from individuals and conservation-oriented nonprofits. The program can only acquire land from willing sellers.

According to a 2005 comparison performed by the Trust for Public Lands, Alabama ranks last among Southeastern states in publicly protected land, in terms of percentage of land area preserved, total acreage protected and acreage protected per capita. If Forever Wild were able to acquire the same total acreage over the next 20 years, Alabama would still rank last in the Southeast, even if other states acquire no more land during that period.