Your vote is your power. And in an election season with so much on the line, it’s never been more important to use your power to speak up for the future you want to see. Over the coming month, millions of voters will have the opportunity to approve ballot measures that could collectively generate over $3.6 billion in new public funding for parks and open spaces.
Since 1996, the conservation finance experts at Trust for Public Land have helped state and local governments generate nearly $80 billion in new voter-approved funding for parks, trails, wildlife, farmland, clean water, and open spaces. This year, we’re supporting 26 ballot measures, with $2.9 billion in public funding on the line.
Photo: Josh Dobay
“Time and again we’ve found that voters are willing to devote funding to conservation at the ballot box, even when local elected officials are reluctant to do so as part of an annual budget,” says Will Abberger, director of conservation finance at Trust for Public Land. “And that funding comes straight from the people, and goes straight to the landscapes they love. It’s an incredibly meaningful and powerful way for voters to make a statement about what’s important for their communities.”
Read on to learn about a few of the local campaigns we’re supporting, or check out our 2020 conservation finance information center to find out if Trust for Public Land is supporting funding measures on your ballot this election season.
Denver Measure 2A: Climate Leadership Gets Local
If we’re going to turn back the tide on climate change, we’ll need leadership and commitment at every level of society. This year, Denver voters have an opportunity to pass one of the boldest plans to fund climate change adaptation and mitigation ever proposed at the municipal level. Measure 2A, a quarter-cent sales tax increase, would generate $720 million to create jobs in renewable energy and natural resources; invest in clean energy like solar power; and invest in community-led environmental and climate justice programs.
No matter who you are, or where you live, you need great parks in your neighborhood, and easy access to the wilder open spaces where you can meet nature on its own terms. Mestizo Curtis Park, Denver, Colorado. Photo: Ian MacLellan
Montana Measure I-190 and CI-118: A Windfall for Montana’s Open Space
Montana’s mountainous western half has some of the fastest population growth in the nation, drawing people to cities like Bozeman, Kalispell, and Missoula, in search of natural beauty, abundant natural resources, and close-to-home adventure. As the state’s population grows, it’ll become ever more important to protect open space. That’s the idea behind statewide measures to legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults age 21. If the measures pass, half of the projected $720 million in revenue over the next 20 years will be used to conserve the open lands that unite all Montanans. Check out this podcast from Montana Conservation Voters to learn more about why the state’s public lands advocates have thrown their support behind these two ballot measures.
The new Story Mill Community Park in Bozeman preserves access to nature and creates places for neighbors to gather–increasingly important amenities as the city’s population grows. Photo: Zakara Photography
Oakland Measure Y: Investing in Greener Schoolyards
Today, America’s schoolyards are packed with potential. Collectively, public school districts own tens of thousands of acres across the country. Some are vibrant community hubs, open to the public after school hours and designed to meet the needs of neighbors as well as students. But in too many communities, schoolyards look more like parking lots than playgrounds, and their gates lock as soon as students head home for the day.
The yard at Oakland’s International Community School can get dangerously hot for students. We’re helping the school community upgrade the space with green features like trees, shade structures, and bigger gardens. Photo: Angela DeCenzo
In Oakland, California, we’ve worked alongside students, teachers, parents, and administrators to design and build greener, more welcoming schoolyards for all. But the need for these upgrades far outstrips available funding. So we teamed up with Oakland Unified School District to help design and rally support for Measure Y. A portion of the $735 million this measure would generate could be used to scale up green schoolyards across the city, keeping students and neighborhoods cooler and healthier as the climate warms.
In more than 20 years of empowering communities to protect the places that matter, 82 percent of the measures we’ve campaigned for have passed. Regardless of political affiliation, voters unite behind policies that benefit parks and open space in their communities. As a hotly contested election enters its final month, it’s a timely reminder: across our country’s deep and widening political divides, nature still has the power to unite us.
Learn more about the measures we’re supporting this election season, and how our conservation finance experts help communities protect the places that matter to them.