Santa Fe Voters Support Open Space Funding

SANTA FE, NM, 4/10/02 – On Tuesday, April 9, the voters of Santa Fe County approved as much as $1.2 million annually in additional funding for open space acquisition and trail improvements in the rapidly growing county.

More than two-thirds of voters approved an increase of the county’s gross-receipts tax, which is paid on most retail purchases in the county. By ordinance 75 percent of the revenue generated by the measure will be used for the creation and delivery of drinking water supplies and for wastewater projects. Fifteen percent – up to approximately $1.2 million per year – will fund open space and trails. The remaining ten percent will be used for transportation projects.

“The voters of Santa Fe County have invested in water quality and delivery improvements and in important open space purposes such as parks, trails, and playgrounds,” said Deb Love, New Mexico State Director of the Trust for Public Land (TPL). “This victory in Santa Fe County is particularly noteworthy for two reasons. It is the third such vote for open space in less than four years. In addition, the measure was supported by a strong coalition of city and county leaders, including the Mayor and the City Council. We applaud their efforts.”

In November 1998, Santa Feans approved, by a margin of 71 percent, a $12 million bond for wildlife, trails, and historic preservation. And two years later, in November 2000, County voters passed, by 70% percent, an $8 million bond for open space acquisition, including ranch and farmland.

The open space funding in Santa Fe County comes on the heels of other successful land protection measures around the country in early 2002 and last year. Among the other significant state and local open space votes taken earlier this year are:

  • Passage on March 5 in California of Proposition 40, a historic $2.6 billion “Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks and Coastal Protection” bond.
  • Adoption this spring by seven more Massachusetts towns of the state’s Community Preservation Act (CPA), which boosts property taxes for open space acquisition, historic preservation, and affordable housing. In the little more than a year that CPA has been law, a total of 43 Massachusetts cities and towns – 12 percent of a total of 351 – have adopted the Act locally.

In 2001, voters across the country passed a total of 137 local measures, creating $1.7 billion to protect open space – 70 percent of all such measures on the ballot passed.

Details on this year’s and on past open space elections are available on-line through LandVote, which is available on the web at or LandVote is sponsored by TPL and the Land Trust Alliance.

TPL’s Conservation Finance Program assists states and communities in designing conservation ballot measures and in gaining voter approval for measures. Working in partnership with local leaders, land trusts, and other open space proponents, the program employs legal and fiscal research, ballot language development, communications and outreach, and campaign strategy consultation to assist with the successful design and approval of open space measures.

“Americans care deeply about parks and open space,” said Love. “TPL’s Conservation Finance Program exists to work with people in their communities to create and expand the public funding necessary to realize their open space visions.”

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. TPL has helped protect more than one million acres, valued at $2 billion, across the country.