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Windfall for nature – Surplus funds boost environment

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California governor Gray Davis may use part of a projected $8 billion budget surplus – the largest in state history — to establish a conservation trust fund, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Instead of creating programs that would outlast their funding source, the governor said he would prefer to use the money on one-time expenditures with long-term benefits, the L.A. Times said.

A sizeable one-time grant to establish a conservation trust fund could provide a permanent funding source for California’s open-space needs. A trust fund could also accept subsequent contributions from nonprofit organizations, private individuals, businesses, federal agencies and local governments, the Times said.

Such a program might resemble the David and Lucile Packard Foundation’s Conserving California Landscapes Initiative, a $175 million program designed to protect open space, farmlands and wildlife habitat in the Sierra Nevada, Central Valley and Central Coast.

The California Department of Finance is expected to reveal the largest budget surplus in state history next month — maybe as much as $8 billion, the Times said.

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