July 2nd, 2010 5:33 pm | by NIGEL JAQUISS News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

Nature Conservancy Pumps Another $200K into Parks Measure (Updated)

Turf Battle

Oregon House Speaker Dave Hunt spent a lot of energy over the past couple of weeks trying to persuade proponents of a planned November ballot measure for parks and habitat to back off.

Hunt and allies such as the Oregon Education Association worry that the measure, which enshrines in the state Constitution a current law that sets aside 15 percent of state Lottery funds for parks and habitat, ties lawmakers' hands at time when Oregon's budget is under severe financial pressure.

Proponents of the measure, Oregonians for Water, Parks and Wildlife, listened to those concerns in a series of meetings. But they decided to move forward with turning in the required signatures by today's 5 pm deadline. They note the measure merely continues a funding stream that voters approved in 1998, and provides vital protection for what is perhaps Oregon's greatest asset—its natural beauty.

Today, filings with the Oregon Secretary of State provided an exclamation point for proponents' determination to proceed: the Nature Conservancy, the biggest backer of the measure, contributed another $200,000 to the campaign. That brings to $1.3 million the total the campaign has raised. It still has about $240,000 on hand.

Updated at 1:45 pm:

Don Hamilton, a spokesman for Secretary of State Kate Brown, says the campaign this morning turned in 176, 566 signatures. That is far more than the 110,358 valid signatures required to qualify a constitutional measure for the ballot.
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