Voters Approve 81% of Land Conservation Ballot Measures
On Tuesday, as millions of Americans cast their ballots in the Presidential election, tight Senate races and high-profile initiatives, conservation funding was one of the most consistent winners on the ballot. Across the country 81% of land conservation ballot measures were enacted -- 46 successful measures will provide a combined $767 million to protect and improve water quality, acquire new parks and open space, and conserve working farms and ranches.
At the end of a campaign season dominated by negativity and focus on the economy, many measures won landslide approval, with at least 27 measures passing with 65% of the vote. In Alabama, 75% of voters approved a 20-year renewal of the state’s Forever Wild land conservation program. The program is funded by the interest from the Alabama Trust Fund, which collects royalties and payments from offshore drilling. The measure will add $300 million to the program for land acquisition and was supported by groups as diverse as the National Rifle Association and the Alabama Wildlife Federation.
In Houston, voters approved a new $166 million bond to complete the city’s Bayou Greenways network. With 68% of the vote, the measure will fund the acquisition of new greenspaces and construction of hiking and biking trails. Houston is currently adding 4,300 acres of greenspace to help improve water quality and flood control management. The network also increases public access, recreation opportunities and increase property values along the bayou.
“From Maine to Texas to San Francisco, we saw voters across the political spectrum say yes to taxes and spending for conservation which helps their communities,” said Will Rogers, President of the Trust for Public Land. “Alabama voters gave their state to Mitt Romney at the same time they overwhelmingly renewed a statewide land conservation program, while Rhode Island voted for President Obama at the same time a statewide bond for open space was approved.”
Yet, not all measures were successful. Among the handful that was voted down, many were property tax or income tax surcharges. In Park Ridge Borough, NJ for example, a measure to spend one cent per $100 in property tax for the establishment of open space, farmland conservation and recreational opportunities. The measure would have raised $3.2 million.
Other states with successful measures include Rhode Island, Massachusetts, California, Montana, Iowa, Utah and Colorado.
Could your community be next? Now is the time to start exploring ballot measures for the next election cycle. Get involved at www.conservationcampaign.org.
Interested in learning more? The Conservation Campaign and Trust for Public Land are hosting a free post-election webinar on Monday, November 19 to review successful strategies and lessons learned. Click here to register.