U.S. Voters Approve $905M for Land Protection

WASHINGTON D.C., Voters in 14 states on Tuesday approved state and local ballot measures that generated $905 million in funding for parks and open space, according to the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and the Land Trust Alliance (LTA).

Of 113 known town, city, county, or state ballot measures nationwide Tuesday, results have been confirmed for 111. (The two outstanding measures are California mail-in ballots due back in December.) Of the 111 measures, 82 were approved by voters – a passage rate of 73%. Among the largest successful measures were:

  • $200 million in Morris County NJ for open space, recreation, and farmland preservation
  • $115 million in Colorado for the State’s Great Outdoors Colorado program
  • $80 million in the City of Houston TX for acquisitions of and additions and improvements to parks and recreational facilities
  • $60 million in Harris County TX for acquisition and development of parks
  • $50 million in Old Bridge Township NJ for open space acquisition
  • $43 million in Douglas County CO for open space acquisition
  • $20 million in Orange County NC to purchase land and easements for watershed protection

All told, more nearly 1.3 million individuals cast votes in favor of increased open space funding in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington. Complete open space election results are available through LandVote 2001, an on-line service of the LTA and TPL, which is accessible through either www.tpl.org, or www.lta.org .

“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 President Jean Hocker. “The large number of successful ballot measures shows that voters want to use their hard earned tax dollars to save these open lands.”

Yesterday’s results are on top of the 77 successful open space ballot measures that passed earlier this year, which created an additional $258 million in funding for parks and open space. Thus, all of the 159 successful open space ballot measures in 2001, including yesterday’s (out of 190 total; passage rate of 67%), have generated $1.16 billion in funding.

Yesterday’s results compare favorably to the support for open space at the ballot box evidenced in recent years:

  • In 2000, voters approved 174 local and state open space measures (out of 209 total; a passage rate of 83%), creating $7.5 billion in new funding.
  • In 1999, 92 successful measures (out of 102 total; a passage rate of 90%) created $1.8 billion for parks and open space.
  • In 1998, 124 successful local and state measures (out of 148 total; a passage rate of 84%) dedicated $8.3 billion in new funding for conservation.

The LandVote 2001 database is a partnership of TPL and LTA.

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.