New Online Database of Conservation Finance Results
BOSTON, MA, 6/21/04 – Across the country, dozens of state and local governments each year vote to raise public funds in support of land conservation. In fact, over the last five years over 640 ballot measures have been approved by voters, creating over $26 billion in funding for parks, conservation and recreation. For the first time, a public database is available online to research these statistics.
Developed by the Trust For Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, the new LandVote Database serves as the premier source of information about conservation ballot measures. The database, accessed online at www.landvote.org, brings together a five-year, comprehensive history for all conservation-related ballot measures that have been voted on since 1999. A full ten-year database dating back to 1994 is expected by October, well in advance of the November elections.
Through its analysis of the data, TPL finds that in both the robust and challenging economic times of the past decade, American voters have strongly supported conservation finance measures that preserve natural lands, create parks, and protect farmland. Over the five years covered in the initial LandVote Database dataset, 78 percent of the conservation finance measures put to voters were approved, generating a total of $26.3 billion.
“By comprehensively tracking ballot measures that create funds for land conservation, we see that Americans are consistently and strongly supporting measures to preserve natural lands and working farms, create neighborhood parks, and protect drinking water quality,” said Will Rogers, TPL president.
Communities that have approved conservation measures are as widespread and diverse as the purposes to which they have committed funds. Conservation finance measures have passed in urban and rural communities in 39 states. Funds approved by individual measures range from a few hundred thousand dollars to several billion dollars and have supported purposes including parks and playgrounds, farmland preservation, watershed protection, trails and greenways, forests, and wildlife habitat.
The information about each measure in TPL’s LandVote Database includes the state AND jurisdiction, the date of the election, a description of the measure, total funds committed (and where available, the amount of money dedicated specifically for land acquisition, restoration and protection), and election results. Users may query the database based on each of these fields or in combination.
“For the first time, government officials, conservation advocates, and members of the press will be able to see instantly how conservation funding proposals in their community compare to others in their state or nationally,” said Ernest Cook, TPL Director of Conservation Finance. “For example, a county considering a sales tax for land conservation can find out that 38 county sales tax measures were on the ballot in the last five years, that 63 percent of them were successful, and that tax rates range from 0.10 percent to 1 percent.”
The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, community gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas. Since 1972, TPL has worked with willing landowners, community groups, and national, state and local government agencies to protect more than 1.9 million acres in 46 states. TPL’s Conservation Finance Program assists land trusts, communities, and states in creating and expanding sources of public funding for land conservation. Through this program, TPL has helped states and communities pass 154 conservation finance ballot measures, generating over $21 billion in new funding. For more information about TPL and TPL’s LandVote Database visit www.landvote.org.