Funding Case Study: Hawai`i

Hawaii’s character and economy are closely linked to the land, which is crucial to agriculture, tourism, and community identity. Although some of the state’s most beautiful and iconic landscapes long have been threatened by development, Hawai`i had no county or state conservation programs until 2002, when voters in Kauai County and Maui County dedicated portions of property tax revenues to purchase open space and protect cultural resources, scenic views, and agriculture. Those measures proved so successful that in 2006, the state’s other two counties— Hawai`i County and Honolulu County—passed similar measures. Together, the four TPL-assisted measures created $127 million in conservation funding. In 2005 the state legislature, noting that its Land Conservation Fund had been depleted for decades, passed the Legacy Land Act, funded by a real estate conveyance tax on high-value properties. (TPL was a key organizer of that measure as well.) The passage of these measures makes Hawai`i one of the few U.S. states in which both the state and all its counties have authorized a dedicated source of conservation funds.