More than $7 billion committed to open space protection
provided by The Trust for Public Land
oters overwhelmingly approved ballot measures to fund open space protection in 2000, according to the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). LTA is tracking the results of conservation referenda around the nation, and the Trust for Public Land worked with scores of communities to develop such ballot measures and put them to voters.
The Trust for Public Land worked with 54 communities on local and state ballot measures this election, providing research services, technical assistance and campaign support through its Public Finance Program. Thirty-nine of these communities passed growth management measures on Tuesday, generating $3.3 billion to protect parks and open space.
Preliminary results collected by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) show that 162 of 204 such ballot questions passed in 2000, providing more than $7 billion in new funding for land conservation. In most of these referenda, voters approved tax increases to pay for land conservation.
LTA is still tracking results from more than 25 additional referenda that were on Tuesday's ballots. Referenda results are posted on LTA's Web site, www.lta.org.
The 2000 results reflect the public's continuing support for open space protection. LTA has been tracking election results for conservation measures for the last three years. In 1999, voters passed 90 percent of the 102 referenda, authorizing more than $1.8 billion in local taxing authority and bonds for open space preservation In 1998, voters passed 84 percent of 148 referenda across the country, providing approximately $8.3 billion to open space protection.
"Voters across the country have demonstrated real commitment to preserving open space in their communities," says Ernest Cook, director of TPL's Public Finance Program. "We are seeing strong support for measures that provide financing for parks and open space even in places where tax measures for other purposes have failed."
"There may not be a big majority for Democrats or Republicans, but there's a very big majority for protecting open space," noted LTA Public Policy Director Russ Shay. "Clearly, people are tremendously concerned about what their communities will look like in the future, and they are very willing to invest their tax money to protect parks, farms, forests and fields."
Some of the successful measures for which TPL provided assistance were:
St. Louis Metropolitan Park District, MO: 65 percent of voters in five counties approved a $470 million sales tax increase to create the nation's first bi-state park and recreation district managed by Missouri and Illinois and acquire new parkland.
Gwinnett County, GA: 55 percent of voters approved $750 million for capital improvements including park facilities and open space acquisition.
Broward County, FL: 74 percent of voters approved $400 million to expand and improve neighborhood parks and natural lands, taking a stand against sprawl in one of Florida's fastest growing counties.
Seattle, WA: 56 percent of voters approved the city's first comprehensive parks bond measure in two decades -- generating $198.2 million for park and trail maintenance and open space acquisition.
Ohio: 57 percent of voters approved the nation's first public finance measure to link land conservation and urban brown-field renewal authorizing $400 million for statewide programs.
The Land Trust Alliance, founded in 1982, promotes voluntary land conservation and strengthens the land trust movement by providing the leadership, information, skills and resources needed by land trusts to conserve land for the benefit of communities and natural systems. Visit LTA's Web site at www.lta.org.
Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. Headquartered in San Francisco with 33 offices nationwide, TPL has helped protect more than 1 million acres of land for public use. For more information, please visit www.tpl.org.