Some lawmakers skeptical of $10M for conservation grants

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Some lawmakers are expressing concern about approving another cash infusion for the state's Heritage Conservation Trust Fund amid tight budget conditions.

The trust fund created by Gov. Phil Bredesen is designed to conserve natural areas in the state. Bredesen, a Democrat, has asked lawmakers to approve $10 million in grant money for the program in the upcoming budget year.

But Sen. Diane Black, a Gallatin Republican, asked Environment and Conservation Commissioner Jim Fyke when the state will have spent enough money on the program.

Fyke responded that the state will have given enough grants when applications stop coming in.

The trust last year awarded $17 million in grants that are projected to protect about 22,000 acres.

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