Over $1 Billion Committed to Open Space

SAN DIEGO, 1/24/02 — Voters approved 137 local ballot measures for land conservation last year, committing almost $1.7 billion in funding for parks and open space, according to the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) and the Trust for Public Land (TPL). Since 1998, voters have given their support to more than $19 billion in open space funding, passing 529 referenda.

The final data on election year 2001 is contained in “LandVote 2001,” a guide to state and local conservation funding produced by TPL and LTA. The guide was released this week in San Diego at the “New Partners for Smart Growth” conference, sponsored by Pennsylvania State University, the Local Government Commission, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“LandVote 2001” documents the continuing trend of voters support for open space measures. On Nov. 6 alone, voters approved 86 referenda, providing nearly $1.2 billion for land protection. The Nov. 6 results came on top of the 51 successful open space ballot measures that passed earlier in 2001. Among the largest successful measures on Nov. 6 were:

  • $192 million in Morris County, NJ, for open space, recreation and farmland preservation
  • $188 million in Middlesex County, NJ, for land conservation, recreation, farmland or historic preservation
  • $160 million in Santa Clara County, CA, for the acquisition, preservation and development of open space, parks, trails, and waterways.
  • $125 million in DeKalb County, GA, for parks and green space
  • $80 million in Houston, TX, for acquisitions of and additions and improvements to parks and recreational facilities
  • $68.5 million in McHenry County, IL, for open space, wildlife habitats, recreation and water supply protection
  • $60 million in Harris County, TX, for acquisition and development of parks

“Americans continue to support public land conservation to a dramatic extent,” said Will Rogers, President of TPL. “As in recent years, voters across the country are eager to protect the unique landscapes of their communities, and they are willing to pay for it.”

“People vote for land protection for one very good reason – open space is a vital part of their everyday lives, and they see it going away,” said LTA Acting President Andrew Zepp. “The large number of successful ballot measures shows that voters want to use their hard-earned tax dollars to save these open lands.”

Results in 2001 continue a trend in support for open space at the ballot box evidenced in recent years:

  • In 2000, voters approved 174 of 209 local and state open space measures, for a passage rate of 83 percent, creating $7.5 billion in new funding.
  • In 1999, 92 of 102 measures succeeded, for a passage rate of 90 percent, crating $1.8 billion for open space.
  • In 1998, 126 of 150 measures were passed by voters, for a passage rate of 84 percent, dedicating $8.3 billion in new funding for conservation.

“LandVote 2001”, a partnership of TPL and LTA, is available upon request or on either organization’s web site: www.tpl.org or www.lta.org

TPL, established in 1972, is the only national nonprofit working exclusively to protect land for human enjoyment and well-being. TPL helps conserve land for recreation and spiritual nourishment and to improve the health and quality of life of American communities.LTA, founded in 1982, promotes voluntary land conservation across the country and providing resources, leadership and training to the nation’s 1,200-plus nonprofit, grassroots land trusts, helping them to protect important open spaces.