Trust for Public Land Supports Ballot Measures to Fund Parks, Conservation, and Climate Across Country
33 Measures Across 14 States Totaling $11.6 Billion in Possible Funding for Parks, Climate Resilience, Land Conservation and Help for Bolstering Communities in 2022 Midterms
SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Trust for Public [TPL] announced that it is supporting 33 different ballot measures across 14 states that will be on ballots across the country this November. If all are approved by the voters, they would generate $11.6 billion in new state and local funding for parks, conservation, and climate.
“The effects of climate change and the pandemic over the last few years have had a huge impact on people’s lives and their communities. Parks and protected natural areas continue to demonstrate their immense worth to provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, and help address climate change.” said Will Abberger, Director of Conservation Finance at Trust for Public Land. “There’s so much power in asking voters to vote ‘yes’ for conservation, which is why Americans of all political stripes in communities across the country want to vote to protect and expand their access to the outdoors.”
“The voters, and communities across America, have made it clear these past elections that they want Congress to act on conservation and address climate change,” said Bill Lee, Senior Vice President for Policy, Advocacy and Government Relations at Trust for Public Land. “That is why after years of working with Congress on those issues, TPL is so pleased to have them pass the Inflation Reduction Act, and fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Those Federal actions coupled with state and local ballot measures are essential to protecting our natural areas, creating more parks, and preparing for the impacts of climate change.”
This year’s Election Day ballot measure agenda set forth by TPL, follows the 2020 Election which was a banner year in which voters across the country supported 49 of 50 measures that created more than $3.6 billion to protect parks, natural areas, and wildlife habitat.
TPL’s Conservation Finance program is the national leader in supporting community organizers, and advising state and local governments, to design, pass, and implement statewide and local public funding for parks, climate, and conservation. Since its inception in 1996, the Conservation Finance program has helped pass 616 ballot measures—an 83 percent success rate—creating $84 billion in voter approved funding for parks, land conservation, and climate change mitigation.
Trust for Public Land is supporting 33 state and local measures funding parks, conservation, and climate on the November 2022 ballot. The following are descriptions of each:
- Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles City Council, in June, authorized Proposition SP, a 30-year parcel tax, for the November ballot. If approved, the measure would generate $227 million a year, or $4.5 billion over twenty years. Funds will be prioritized based on Los Angeles’ “equity index” to provide park-poor communities with safe access to parks and recreation facilities. The measure will also pay for improvements to and acquisition of open space, waterways, recreation facilities, regional parks, trails, and beaches, as well as operations and maintenance.
- Marin County, CA – This November, Marin County voters will consider a new parcel tax to finance a $23 million bond that would help purchase the 110-acre Tiburon Ridge, also known as the “Martha Property.” Acquisition of the property would protect critically endangered natural areas, wildlife habitat, and water quality for the surrounding municipalities of Tiburon and Belvedere.
- Douglas County, CO – Measure 1A would fund parks, trails, open space, historic preservation, and conservation for the next fifteen years. This renewal of the 0.17 percent sales and use tax is expected to raise $217 million.
- Routt County, CO – The Routt County Commissioners unanimously referred Prop 1A, the reauthorization of the County’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program, to the ballot. If approved by voters, the measure will provide continued funding for the PDR program for the next ten years, conserving water, wildlife, and working ranches. The property tax is expected to raise $29 million.
- Windsor, CO – Issue 3F, if passed by voters, would increase the Town’s sales and use tax by $1.62 million annually at a rate of 0.25 percent. The measure would put in place dedicated funding for land acquisition, stewardship, operations, and maintenance. The sales and use tax increase is expected to raise $32 million over twenty years.
- Alachua County, FL – This renewal of the popular Wild Spaces & Public Places program would conservatively raise $246 million for parks and land conservation over ten years. An additional $246 million would be raised for repair of existing roads, fire stations and public facilities, as well as new affordable housing. If approved, this one-cent sales tax would replace the existing half-cent sales tax. This will be the fourth conservation funding measure before Alachua County voters over the past 22 years, and the third with support from TPL.
- Brevard County, FL – Brevard County voters will consider authorizing up to $50 million in bonds to extend the county’s Environmentally Endangered Lands program to acquire, improve and maintain wildlife habitat, wetlands, woodlands, and lands protecting the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Johns River. Funding would also maintain and improve nature education centers.
- Indian River County, FL – Indian River County voters will consider a $50 million bond to continue the County’s highly successful land-acquisition program. This will be Indian River County’s third land conservation funding measure, following bond measures in 1992 and 2004. TPL assisted with the $50 million bond measure in 2004. Funds would be used to preserve environmentally significant lands to restore the Indian River Lagoon, protect water resources, natural areas, wildlife habitat, and drinking water sources.
- Miami Lakes, FL – The Miami Lakes’ Town Council referred a $19.5 million bond to the ballot to renovate the 50-year-old Optimist Park. Located in one of Florida’s early planned communities, Optimist Park serves not only this diverse town of 30,467, but also the regional Miami Lakes Middle School, a Title 1 school with a substantial number of disadvantaged students. If approved, the funding would be used to improve the park’s athletic fields, trails, exercise stations, basketball courts, tennis and pickleball courts, restrooms, lighting, and parking facilities.
- Nassau County, FL – This November, Nassau County voters will weigh a $30 million bond to establish a new county land conservation program to acquire lands that improve water quality and protect drinking water sources. The measure would also fund natural areas and beaches, as well as the St. Mary’s, Nassau and Amelia Rivers. Conservation of these lands will reduce flooding, conserve wildlife habitat, and enhance outdoor recreation. The County has already received 750 proposals for places residents would like to see conserved. TPL had worked with Nassau County since 2019 to move this measure to the ballot.
- Polk County, FL – Polk County voters will consider a property tax increase to preserve water resources, environmental lands, and fish and wildlife habitat. The ballot initiative would also fund historic preservation. If approved by the voters, the measure would generate $200 million over twenty years and support a $75 million bond.
- Forest Preserves of Cook County, IL – Trust for Public Land has been working since 2016 to establish dedicated funding for the Forest Preserves. In July 2021, the Forest Preserves Board referred the 0.025 percent property tax increase to the November ballot. If approved, the measure would generate more than $1 billion over 25 years. This funding will be used to implement Forest Preserves’ “Next Century Conservation Plan.” In addition to restoring 30,000 acres, the plan would acquire land to expand the forest preserves, improve air and water quality, and protect wildlife habitat and natural areas for Cook County, in particular Chicago’s southeastern suburbs.
- Community Preservation Act, MA – In November, six Massachusetts municipalities will vote on the Community Preservation Act, a state program that allows communities to establish a local property tax dedicated to land protection, outdoor recreation, historic preservation, and affordable housing. Among those considering the measure is Worcester, the state’s second-largest city, where the program would generate $24 million for watershed protection and affordable housing. The towns of Boylston, Burlington, Natick, Shelburne, and Westborough will also cast votes on the act.
- Ravalli County, MT – Based on a successful 2006 land conservation bond, Ravalli County Commissioners referred a new $10 million bond to the November ballot. The measure would extend funding for this western Montana county’s Open Lands Program, which is designed to manage increased county growth, preserve land protect the Bitterroot River, bolster the local economy, and maintain wildlife habitat. Those goals would be achieved through voluntary conservation easements and creation of new recreation amenities.
- New York (statewide) – At $4.2 billion, this is the largest and only statewide measure on the November ballot. It was removed from the November 2020 ballot due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. But in 2021, the State Legislature referred the measure again. In addition to providing significant funding for climate adaptation and resiliency, the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Green Jobs Bond Act requires that at least 40 percent of the funding be dedicated to projects in environmental-justice communities, ensuring meaningful impact in areas that were the hardest hit by pollution historically.
- Gardiner, NY – Following a successful ballot measure in New Paltz, NY, in 2020, the neighboring town of Gardiner would become the second municipality in Ulster County to approve a new real estate transfer tax to support a local Community Preservation Fund. The fund would be used to protect the 43-square-mile town’s rivers and streams, drinking water sources, working farms, and wildlife habitat. If approved, the tax would generate an estimated $8 million over twenty years.
- Buncombe County, NC – Buncombe County voters will consider two companion measures on the ballot: a $30 million bond for protection of land, trails, farms, and forests, and a $40 million bond for affordable housing. Both would be backed by modest property tax levies. If approved, these bonds will allow Buncombe County to protect an estimated 6,000 acres of land by 2030, complete a robust system of trails, and provide workforce housing.
- Cleveland MetroParks, OH – Metropolitan Cleveland voters will consider Issue 5, which would enact a property tax of $27 per $100,000 of assessed value and provide funding for the Cleveland Metropolitan Parks District. Specifically, the money would be used to conserve the natural resources of the district; repair and maintain existing parks and facilities, and acquire new land. If passed, the measure is expected to generate $130 million over twenty years.
- Carbon County, PA – Carbon County is the first county in Pennsylvania to consider dedicated funding for land conservation since 2008. If approved, the $10 million bond would protect drinking water sources while improving water quality in lakes, rivers, and streams. It would also conserve working farms and local food sources, as well as protect wildlife habitat.
- Westtown Township, PA – Westtown voters will consider both an earned-income tax increase and a property tax increase to help finance the acquisition of the historic Crebilly Farm, site of the Battle of Brandywine during the Revolutionary War. In April, a deal was reached between the farm’s owners and the township, for the purchase of 208 acres to be permanently protected for the public to enjoy. But that agreement is contingent on passage of the open space referendum.
- Beaufort County, SC – Beaufort County voters will consider the first county sales tax measure dedicated to land conservation under new state enabling legislation passed earlier this year. If approved, the one-cent sales tax would apply only for two years and raise up to $100 million to preserve land, purchase easements, and protect water quality. The measure greenlights land conservation not only in Beaufort County, but also in the more rural and disadvantaged adjacent counties of Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton. This will be the sixth land conservation funding measure considered by Beaufort County voters, following successful bond referenda in 2000, 2006, 2012, 2014, and 2018.
- Berkeley County, SC – Berkeley County is asking voters to renew its one percent transportation sales tax to repair roads and, for the first time, fund a county “greenbelt” program. The county program is modeled on neighboring Charleston County’s successful greenbelt initiative. If approved, the Berkeley program is projected to yield $59 million for conservation of passive and active greenspaces, natural resources, agricultural or heritage landscapes, and scenic corridors.
- Dorchester County, SC – The Dorchester County Council referred a renewal of its transportation sales tax to the ballot and also included funding for a new “greenbelt” program. If approved, the measure would generate $35 million to protect land and improve water quality in the Charleston-area community, which is experiencing rapid growth. This is the third ballot measure Trust for Public Land has supported in Dorchester, having worked on successful park bonds in 2010 and 2019.
- Kendall County, TX – Located deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Kendall County is the fifth fastest growing county in the nation. This November, voters there will consider a $20 million bond for land conservation to protect the Guadalupe River, as well as drinking water sources, working farms and ranches, and wildlife habitat.
- Cache County, UT – Voters in Cache County, UT will vote on a $20 million general obligation bond. If approved, the measure would pay for land acquisition to protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and farms. Funds from the bond will also be used for new trails and trail connectivity, along with protection of scenic mountain vistas throughout the county.
- Salt Lake City, UT – With support from Mayor Erin Mendenhall, the Salt Lake City Council referred an $85 million general obligation bond to the ballot to fund key priorities in the City’s park master plan. The revenue would also ensure equitable investment in parks and trails throughout the city. The City Council cited seven projects for funding that would improve quality of life, enhance water and air quality, and create more access to public lands or all residents, with a particular emphasis on the historically underserved west side of the city.
- King County, WA – This November, voters in the greater Seattle area of King County will consider a measure to double the existing mill levy enabled by Washington’s Conservation Futures program. If passed, the measure would generate $440 million to conserve 65,000 acres of land protection over the next thirty years, including forests, trails, rivers, farmlands, and greenspaces.
- Metro Parks Tacoma, WA – This November, the Metro Parks District will ask voters to restore its property tax levy to 75 cents per $1,000, the maximum allowable tax rate for parks districts under state law. Restoring funding for the Metro Parks District would generate $148 million to fund wildfire prevention, operations and maintenance of parks and facilities, land preservation, expansion of youth programming, and improvements in safety and security.
About Trust for Public Land
Trust for Public Land (TPL) is a national nonprofit that works to connect everyone to the benefits and joys of the outdoors. As a leader in equitable access to the outdoors, TPL works with communities to create parks and protect public land where they are needed most. Since 1972, TPL has protected more than 3 million acres of public land, created more than 5,000 parks, trails, schoolyards, and iconic outdoor places, raised $84 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit tpl.org.