Over $1.7 Billion Approved for Conservation

SAN FRANCISCO, 11/10/2005 – Voters in 17 states across the nation approved spending more than $650 million for land conservation this week, bringing the final 2005 total for new open space spending to $1.7 billion, according to results released today by The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization.

“What we saw on Tuesday was the same thing we’ve seen across the United States both this year and for the past decade, and that is that people want to preserve land in their communities and they are willing to pay for it,” said Ernest Cook, Director of TPL’s Conservation Finance program, which helps local communities enact public funding measures.

On Nov. 8, voters in 17 states cast ballots on 67 different measures and 49 – or 73% – were approved. New Jersey was the leader, with 30 measures on the ballot, of which 21 – 70% – won.

The only statewide balloting this fall was in Maine, where the electorate voted 2-1 for approval of a $12 million bond. “This is a terrific demonstration that people in Maine support protection of their open space and their traditional way of life and this money should help do that,” Cook said.

Including the Nov. 8th votes, a total of 134 open space spending measures were on ballots around the country in 2005, and 79% passed, generating a total of $1.7 billion to preserve land. “The approval rate was the highest since 2000,” Cook noted. “In contrast to that economic boom time, the past year has been one of great uncertainty, with soaring energy costs, natural disasters and issues of national security.”

In other areas this November:

Routt County, CO – Voters gave 59 percent approval to a property tax extension, which preserves ranchland and natural areas.

Sarasota County, FL – 78 percent of voters supported a $250 million bond for open space lands and neighborhood parks.

Dekalb County, GA – Voters approved a $96 million bond, which contained $30 million for open space purposes.

Massachusetts – 3 communities passed measures adopting the Community Preservation Act, a local property tax surcharge, which could generate a combined $20 million for open space. In 2005, 28 of 31 communities statewide adopted CPA generating almost $96 million for open space.

Woodbury, MN – Voters approved a bond measure, which include $6 million for open space.

Town of Beekman, N.Y. – A $3 million open space bond won with 71% approval.

Camden County, N.J. – Voters approved a $50 million property tax levy.

Sussex County, N.J. – Voters approved a $45 million property tax levy.

Pike County, PA – A $10 million open space bond won 68% approval.

Travis County, TX – A bond, which included $40 million for land conservation was approved.

James City County, VA – 78 percent of voters supported a $20 million bond for land conservation.

Since 1996, TPL’s Conservation Finance Program has helped communities pass 290 local and state ballot measures which have generated more than $48 billion in new conservation-related funding, including $19 billion for land acquisition and restoration.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization which conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, and other natural places, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres in 46 states. TPL depends on the support of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Visit TPL on the Web at www.tpl.org.