New Law Could be Turning Point for Conservation in Colorado

Denver, Colorado, 4/13/2007: The Trust for Public Land joined a state-wide celebration of the passage of Senate Bill 98- the Open Space Sales Tax Exemption – as a long-awaited turning point for conservation funding in Colorado.

Gov. Bill Ritter signed the Bill into law at the Capitol this morning, surrounded by leaders of the conservation community and local goverments.

“I’m pleased to be able to provide the opportunity for Counties to work locally to preserve their natural resources and invest in their quality of life,” Gov. Ritter said.

SB-98 allows counties to invite voters to approve up to a half-cent sales and use tax to fund open space programs that preserve and maintain their natural areas, water quality, wildlife habitat, open spaces and working farms and ranches. This legislation will be a critical new resource for financially constrained county governments who recognize the need to create effective conservation programs.

“You know what they say about land – they’re not making any more,” said Senate President and bill sponsor Joan Fitz-Gerald. “Our counties have limited resources to meet the demand to preserve our important natural areas, and this legislation is a necessary tool.” Senator Fitz-Gerald and Representative Al White are long-standing co-sponsors of the legislation, seeing it approved by the legislature three times, only to be vetoed by Governor Owens in 2005 and 2006.

Rep. White remarked “I’ve sponsored this bill three times, and I’d like to thank the Governor for his leadership on this important issue.”

Doug Robotham, Trust for Public Land (TPL) State Director spoke to the pressing need for the legislation by saying, “Colorado boasts a rich natural heritage that is under increasing threat from a population explosion. By 2030, our state’s population is projected to reach 7 million, an increase of 63% from the 2000 census. The need for funding land conservation outstrips the available resources by a margin or 3 or 4 to 1. Empowering local communities to create new sources of funding is a critical solution to this challenge.”

“Thank you to Gov. Ritter, Senator Fitz-Gerald, and Rep. White for their dedication and support over the years,” continued Mr. Robotham.

TPL and the Colorado Conservation Trust joined together to work to expand County authority to preserve land – – and the list of supporters celebrating today’s success includes conservationists, local governments, land trusts and environmental advocates.

– Background –

The Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL’s has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 48 states. In Colorado, TPL has protected 81,000 acres of land, and helped 30 communities generate more than $1.4 billion in funding for conservation. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please contact us at (303) 837.1414 or visit us on the web at