Rhode Island Land Measure Wins Big

Providence, RI–Yesterday, with 73 percent of the vote, Rhode Island voters passed Question #1, a $34 million bond measure that will provide the state with just over $6 million annually for the next five years to protect watershed lands around drinking water supplies, recreational areas, parkland, and wildlife habitat. This strong show of voter support was hailed as a critical conservation victory by the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit conservation organization that has actively supported Question #1 in Rhode Island since it was proposed by Governor Almond in 1998.

“Rhode Island’s citizens have demonstrated real commitment to preserving their communities in the face of increasing growth and sprawling development,” said TPL’s director of state government relations Andy McLeod. “The new funds approved yesterday will make a tremendous difference in the effort to protect Rhode Island’s natural and scenic landscapes.” McLeod joined TPL’s staff last year after serving as the director of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

Results from a public opinion poll sponsored by TPL and The Nature Conservancy this fall showed that Rhode Island voters strongly supported Question #1, which will help to protect drinking water supplies, set aside open space for recreation and wildlife, refurbish and improve Roger Williams Park, and conserve working farmland.

Rhode Island is not the only state that voted yesterday to commit funding for land protection. Votes were cast on more than 90 state and local conservation finance measures totaling more than $4 billion across the United States. Over 50 of the measures have received research, technical assistance, and/or campaign support from the Trust for Public Land and the TPL Land Action Fund.

For more information on all of these measures, and for results following the election, please consult TPL’s “Land Vote 2000” web site at: www.tpl.org/LandVote2000 The site contains frequently updated information on specific measures, as well as links to TPL’s on-line conservation finance resources.

TPL was a founding member and lead supporter of “Yes on Question #1 for Rhode Island’s Heritage,” the statewide campaign in support of the $34 million bond. Other members of the “Yes on #1” coalition included The Nature Conservancy, the Preservation Society of Newport County, and the Aquidneck Island Land Trust.

Rhode Island is rapidly losing land for drinking water protection, parks and recreation, wildlife habitat, and farms. Since 1985, Rhode Island has lost 26,000 acres of open space to development. Roughly 75 percent of Rhode Island’s drinking water comes from surface sources, but only 25 percent of the critical watershed lands around these sources are permanently protected.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting land for people to enjoy as parks and open space. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 1.2 million acres nationwide. For more information, contact TPL’s New England Regional Office at (617) 367-6200 or visit www.tpl.org.