Voters Approve Record Amount for Land Conservation

SAN FRANCISCO, Cal. 11/9/2006 – In Tuesday’s election, voters in 23 states approved 99 ballot measures to provide $5.73 billion for state and local government funding for land conservation. The total is a record, eclipsing the previous local spending record of $5.68 billion, set in the general election in November, 1998, according to figures compiled by the Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization.

The 2006 total approved for local conservation spending was also a record, reaching $6.03 billion, compared to the $5.86 billion approved in all of 1998. The figures for the entire year include all ballot issues in the year, including those on primary election ballots.

On Nov. 7, there were 128 conservation funding measures on ballots around the nation. The 99 that passed meant a success rate of 77%, which is similar to the last decade, when voters have approved about three out of four such measures.

A number of areas approved bonds or taxes for the first time, including:

  • Cobb County, Georgia, a conservative-leaning area outside Atlanta, where voters approved a $40 million bond for land conservation with 72% support.
  • Salt Lake County, Utah, where voters endorsed a $48 million bond by 71%.
  • Ravalli County, Montana, which approved a $10 million bond, 58-42%.
  • Quincy, Massachusetts, a blue-collar community that approved a property tax hike with 57% voting to approve.
  • Hawai’i and Honolulu Counties, which both approved property tax measures by wide margins, meaning every county in Hawaii now has a dedicated fund for land conservation.

This year’s largest single land conservation measure was a statewide bond in California, which included $2.25 billion for acquisition and protection of open lands. The smallest measure was a property tax hike in Cedar Grove Township, New Jersey, which set aside $127,000 for land conservation.

Other highlights of this election include:

  • The state of Texas, where all six city and county spending measures for parks and conservation won, and each won more than 61% of the vote.
  • Nassau County, New York, which approved a $100 million bond with 77% support.
  • Beaufort County, South Carolina, which renewed funding for its land conservation program with a $50 million measure that won 75% of the vote.
  • The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where seven more cities and towns adopted measures to provide funding for parks and land conservation. Since 2001, more than one-third of local governments in the state have enacted new taxes for open space.