A record $13 billion for land conservation was approved by voters across America on voting day this week, including large statewide measures in Florida, New Jersey, and California, The Trust for Public Land said.
“Tuesday was a remarkable day for land conservation in states and cities across America,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land, the nation’s leader in creating public funding for parks and open space. “Voters in Florida, New Jersey and California all approved measures which will mean billions of dollars will be spent to preserve the special places which are important to them and their families. And that approval came from voters regardless of their party affiliation.”
“But the results were not surprising,” Rogers said. “For more than 20 years, The Trust for Public Land has seen that support from Democratic, Republican and independent voters alike. Whether voters are red or blue, they are both green when they are willing to vote with their pocketbooks to protect special places.”
The measures included:
- Florida – An amendment to the state constitution won 75-25% approval and will dedicate $18 billion over the next 20 years, with half that amount set aside for new land conservation, including major investments in the Everglades. The $9 billion total makes up the bulk of the $13 billion approved Tuesday. The Florida measure was the largest land conservation measure ever approved in a single state.
- New Jersey – By 65-35%, voters dedicated $2.15 billion over the next 20 years for land conservation, using a portion of corporate business taxes collected by the state.
- California – Voters passed, 67-33%, a $7.5 billion water bond, which includes $1.5 billion for land conservation. It will be the first new state funding dedicated to land conservation since 2006.
- North Dakota – A proposed state constitutional amendment was defeated 21-79%. It would have dedicated 5% of the state’s oil extraction tax money to parks and conservation for the next 25 years, or about $75 million annually.
- Maine – Voters passed, 65-35%, a $10 million bond measure to help pay for infrastructure which would reduce threats to the state’s water resources and protect fisheries and habitat for water birds and other aquatic animals.
- Portland, Ore. – A $68 million bond to repair and maintain the city’s parks won 72-28%.
- Missoula County, Mont. – Voters passed 54-46% a $42 million bond to build out Fort Missoula Regional Park, expand trails throughout the county, and build and repair neighborhood parks in Missoula.
- Bernalillo County, N.M – Voters in this county, which includes Albuquerque, gave 72-28% approval to a 15-year property tax for open space and natural areas.
- Larimer County, Colo. A 25-year sales tax extension to protect natural areas, open space and rivers won 81-19% approval by the county’s voters, which includes Fort Collins. It is expected to generate more than $10.4 million annually with half to be shared back to the county’s 8 municipalities.
- Benton County, Wash. – A 10-year property tax, which was expected to generate $1 million annually for open space, was defeated 45-55%
- Los Angeles County, Calif. – A proposed extension of an existing parcel tax measure to pay for county parks and recreation won 62-38% support from voters, but failed because it needed a 2/3 margin for enactment
Details of local conservation ballots measures dating back to 1988 can be found at www.landvote.org.