Colorado Votes for Open Space

Nov. 6, 2002 – Colorado voters yesterday gave overwhelming support to open space protection as they approved four of five local ballot measures that committed a total of $304 million in new funding for parks and open space, according to The Trust for Public Land (TPL). Of the land-protection and park ballot measures on Tuesday’s ballot, only the open space use tax in Ouray failed get voter support, losing by a razor thin margin of 68 votes. The open space measure in Eagle County expects to be finalized next week. (See attached list for referenda results in Colorado.)

The 80% approval rate in Colorado was much the same nationwide yesterday as voters in 22 states approved more than $2.6 billion in new funding for parks and open space. Of 99 local or state ballot questions tabulated nationwide so far by TPL and Land Trust Alliance, voters approved 79 referenda, a passage rate of 79% percent.

“Americans continue to support public land conservation to a dramatic extent,” said Will Rogers, President of TPL. “Voters across the country are eager to protect the unique landscapes of their communities.”

“What was most impressive about this year’s election were the margins many of the ballot measures passed by,” said Doug Robotham, Colorado State Director for the Trust for Public Land. “We consistently see strong community support of open space conservation measures, even in uncertain economic times.” Robotham went on to explain. “This trend held true for Colorado and across the Country.”

The biggest victory for open space in Colorado yesterday was Issue 200 in Ft. Collins where voters extended their quarter of a cent sales tax for 25 years. Voters approved the measure with an impressive 65% to 35% margin, creating an additional $160 million dollars for land protection in one of the Front Range’s fastest growing communities. Issue 200 in Ft. Collins was the second largest funding measure for open space in yesterday’s election nationwide.

Voters in rural Colorado also gave their support to land protection. Communities in the Arkansas Valley, (Otero, Bent, Prowers, Pueblo and Crowley counties), overwhelmingly approved the formation of a 5 County Water Conservancy District that was formed to protect endangered wildlife habitat and preserve the local farm and ranching way of life.

Nationwide, 79 communities cast votes in favor of increased open space funding in Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington. Among the largest successful measures, in addition to those in Colorado, were:

  • California’s Proposition 50, generating $2 billion for land acquisition, passed by 55-45%. (A second California measure, Proposition 51, failed by a margin of 59-41%.)
  • In Nevada, Question 1, creating $89.5 million for land acquisition, passed by 59-41%.
  • Virginia’s Question 2, raising $36.5 million for land protection, passed by 69-31%.

Complete open space election results are available through LandVote 2002, an online service of the LTA and TPL, which is accessible through either, or

Yesterday’s results came on top of the approximately 47 successful ballot measures that passed earlier this year, which created an additional $2.7 billion in new funding for parks and open space. Thus, all of the 145 successful open space ballot measures in 2001 have generated $936 million in new funding.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate and helping communities pass ballot measures to increase funding for land protection. In Colorado, TPL has worked to protect over 70,000 acres since 1980 and has helped communities pass ballot measures creating over $612 million in new land conservation funding.