Dakota Cty. Featured in Latest LandVote Report (MN)

St.Paul, MN, 1/29/03 – American voters have again demonstrated a commitment to parks and open space conservation, according to a new report released today by the Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance.

The report, LandVote 2002, tracks land conservation ballot measures nationwide for 2002. According to the report, 75 percent (141 of 189) of parks and open space ballot measures passed in 2002, up from 70 percent in 2001. The 141 successful measures will generate over $10 billion in 28 states, including an estimated the $5.7 billion specifically for land acquisition, preservation, and protection.

Request a paper copy of the report or download the report in PDF.

“2002 was another year of very strong voter support for open space protection across the country,” said Will Rogers, President of TPL. “At a time when the threshold for government spending and borrowing is rising, Americans continue to demonstrate that they will pay to protect the places that are special to them.”

“Voters in a bipartisan manner have again voiced their strong support for protection of natural lands, clean water, and safe communities,” said LTA President Rand Wentworth. “They understand that we are losing two million acres each year, and they have shown their concern that the lands we protect today will affect the American landscape for all time.”

Minnesota’s Dakota County Passed $20 Million Open Space Measure

In Minnesota, Dakota County voters approved a $20 million bond referendum that will help protect key farmland and natural areas. Concerned about the rapid growth and development occurring in their communities, Dakota County citizens approved the measure by a vote of 57% – 43%. Though nationwide counties adopted similar measures, Dakota is the first county in Minnesota to do so.

“The support for this measure was strong, geographically diverse and bipartisan,” said Susan Schmidt, Minnesota Director of the Trust for Public Land. “Because of its passage, Dakota County is in a great position to protect threatened, high-priority land locally as well as leverage other resources.”

Election Day 2002 Voting Especially Noteworthy

Voter support for open space measures was particularly strong on November 5, 2002, when 95 of 112 measures on state and local ballots across the United States were approved by voters, generating $2.9 billion for open space acquisition, restoration, and protection specifically. The resulting rate of passage – approximately 85% – is higher than 2002 as a whole (74%) and also is an increase from a 75% passage rate on Election Day 2001. The 95 successful measures from November 5 yielded a total of approximately $6.9 billion for all purposes, including land protection.

LandVote 2002 is an annual publication of the Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance and is also available on-line at www.landvote.org

LandVote 2002 was formally released today in New Orleans at the Second Annual “New Partners for Smart Growth” conference sponsored by the local Government Commission and Penn State University. Major funders include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Centers for Disease Control, and the National Association of Realtors. A focus of the conference is the benefit of communities working together to manage growth and conservation through public-private partnerships.

LandVote 2002 Methodology

LandVote 2002 tabulates funding from local and state conservation ballot measures in two ways: 1) the total funding contained in these measures for any and all purposes, including land acquisition, restoration, and protection, and 2) funding contained in successful measures that is specifically for land acquisition, restoration, and protection. The need for both sets of figures results from the fact that many ballot measures contain funding in addition to that which is dedicated specifically for land acquisition and restoration. Both sets of figures help to document the substantial voter support that exists for conservation and the voters’ willingness to pay for conservation.

Most, but not all, of the measures tabulated by LandVote are bond measures, ballot questions that authorize the use of bonded indebtedness (general obligation bonds) for the purpose of raising government revenue. Other measures tabulated by LandVote include property taxes and sales taxes. This is calculated over the life of the measure. In the case of bonds this is usually 20 or 30 years. When a ballot measure contains no sunset provision, Land Vote estimates its revenue total based a 20-year duration.

TPL, established in 1972, is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well-being. TPL’s Conservation Finance Program provides technical and policy assistance to communities and states that seek to create or expand public for open space protection.

LTA, founded in 1982, promotes voluntary land conservation across the country and provides resources, leadership and training to the nation’s 1,200-plus nonprofit, grassroots land trusts, helping them to protect important open spaces. Visit LTA on the web at www.lta.org