CO Voters Approve $34M to Protect Natural Areas
Denver, CO, November 10, 2005: Colorado voters this election continued to demonstrate that they want to protect their water, natural areas and wildlife habitat and are willing to pay for it. In yesterday’s election voters in Routt County and the Town of Superior enthusiastically approved conservation funding measures totaling $34 million.
In Routt County, 59 percent said yes to renewing and expanding the county’s successful Ranchlands and Natural Areas program, and in Superior 55 percent approved $12 million of bonding authority to help purchase the Town’s remaining natural areas.
“Funding for our program was set to expire, so without passing this measure there was really no other realistic way we were going to continue to protect our unique quality of life.” said Susan Corcer, leader of Committee to Preserve Ranchlands and Natural Areas, the citizen group working to win approval for the Routt County measure.
“Since 1996, when voters first passed a funding measure, our County has successfully preserved aver 9000 acres of land which preserves our water quality, scenic views and the rural character of our communities. By voting to continue the program for 20 years, our County showed their commitment to conserving natural lands for future generations.”
Funds approved by voters in Routt will help the County continue to balance future growth while preserving the quality of life by acquiring development rights to protect the water quality, preserve wildlife habitat, scenic views, vistas and working farms and ranches. Funds from the program will also enable the County to continue to compete for state Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund dollars. The Citizen Advisory Committee will continue to oversee project selection and open space expenditures. The referendum will mean a contribution of $12 per year for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000 to preserve land and water resources.
In 2001, voters in Superior approved a 0.3 percent sales tax increase for natural area preservation and trails. The bond measure approved by voters on Tuesday will allow the Town to use those funds now, while the land is still available and before values escalate even further. Because the Town has the sales tax in place, this was not a tax increase.
“The measures were the result of months of careful consideration and an extensive feasibility study,” said Nissa Maddox, Western States Conservation Finance Program Director for the Trust for Public Land. “I think Colorado voters have shown, once again, they agree that it makes good fiscal sense to fund land conservation now to continue to invest in our quality of life.”
The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Finance program worked with city and county officials to conduct feasibility research and design the open space measures. The group also assisted the citizen committees in Superior and Routt, which formed to promote the measures by educating voters about the benefits.
Routt and Superior join 64 communities in 17 states across the country voting on new funds for land conservation so far in 2005. Earlier in 2005, voters approved 53 ballot measures for land conservation in fifteen different states raising over $1 billion for conservation and related purposes, including a $62 million measure approved by Durango voters in March that will protect natural areas in and around town and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation.
A complete list of results from local and state balloting on conservation and parks is available on-line at www.landvote.org. The results of yesterday’s vote, along with results of all 2005 conservation measures, will be published as a report in early 2006. Results and ballot specifics from past measures since 1994 are also available on the LandVote database at www.landvote.org.
The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. With funding from the Forest Legacy Program, the federal Land & Water Conservation Fund, state and local open-space funds, and other public and private investments, TPL has helped to protect more than 1.4 million acres across the country. For more information, visit TPL on the web at www.tpl.org.