Election Saw Big Wins for State and Local Conservation Projects


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A note from The Nature Conservancy about successful state and local initiatives focused on conservation projects. Posted for The New York Times Dot Earth blog.

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Election Saw Big Wins for State and Local Conservation Projects

  1. 1. A note from The Nature Conservancy about successful state and local initiatives focused on conservationprojects. Posted for The New York Times Dot Earth blog.Last night was huge victory for conservation. The Nature Conservancy state chapters took leading roles in 13state and local conservation funding ballot measures in 9 states this Election, in many cases providing strategicmanagement, financial support, voter outreach, and endorsements. Of those 13 campaigns, 11 were successful,giving us a win rate of 85% and generating over $692 million for land and water conservation and parks formany of our priority areas.Many of TNC’s measures passed with some of the highest levels of voter approval we have ever seen. Voters inAlabama approved their measure at 75%; Rhode Island at 74%; Polk County, IA at 72%; Bozeman, MT at 73%;Marin County, CA at 74%. Nationally, 47 land and water ballot measures passed last night generating over $1BILLION for land, water, and parks.I think it’s important to show you just one example of what a difference it makes when The Conservancy getsreally engaged with one of these measures.A year ago in October, a baseline survey in Alabama showed that 25% of likely voters would definitely vote“yes” on the Forever Wild measure were it on the ballot that day. Last night, a year later, we sealed the dealwith 75% of the Alabamian electorate voting “yes” to extend Forever Wild funding, which provides up to $15million /year for statewide conservation over the next 20 years. Through TV ads, mail, radio and phoneoutreach, we targeted our key constituencies and they delivered a win for us! This means a hugefunding source for an area of the country rich in biodiversity and ecosystems that offer so much tothose living there.A heart-felt thanks to all the State Directors and to Peter Kareiva for your financial contributions to theAlabama campaign. As you can see from the baseline survey, passing this measure was an uphillbattle, but once again the organization came together and it made all the difference. I would also beremiss not to single out Russ Hoeflich. Russ, thank you for galvanizing and inspiring the troops!The Conservancy’s successes this year were a testament to TNC’s state chapters running smart campaigns, andgiving voters a product they value—protecting their land and water. Voters see the connection to their health,their quality of life, and future generations, and are willing to pay for it.Lastly, thank you to the Conservation Campaigns Team for providing guidance to many of our state chapters.Hazel WongDirector, ConservationCampaigns--------Nature Conservancy victories at the ballot box this year:ALABAMAAmendment 1: Alabama’s Forever Wild Land TrustAmendment 1 will provide up to $15 million per year to continue the popular Alabama Forever Wildprogram for another 20 years. Voters first approved the Alabama Forever Wild program back in 1992.Since then, this program has protected over 227,000 acres of natural areas to ensure clean drinkingwater, preserve wildlife habitat, and provide access for outdoor recreation. Forever Wild is funded by
  2. 2. fees from natural gas companies that drill off Alabama’s coastal waters and will not raise taxes.RHODE ISLANDQuestions 5 & 6: Clean Water and Green SpaceQuestion 5 will provide $20 million for clean water infrastructure projects to improve water quality ofNarragansett Bay--ensure safe drinking water, cleaner beaches, more productive fisheries, andhealthier communities. Question 6 will provide $20 million to restore the Narragansett Bay and protectits watershed; conserve natural habitat for the benefit of people, plants and wildlife; preserve familyfarms and local sources of food; and improve historic areas and local parks.MAINEQuestion 3: Land for Maine’s FutureQuestion 3 will provide $5 million to replenish the popular Land for Maine’s Future program. Since1987, Land for Maine’s Future has made key investments in Maine’s natural resource-based economy.It has conserved over 445,000 acres of natural areas, rivers, and lakes; more than 1,000 miles ofwaterfront land; developed some 160 miles of recreational trails; expanded state and regional parks;and protected working farms.AUSTIN, TXPropositions 13 & 14: Open Space and ParksIn Austin, voters passed Proposition 13, authorizing $30 million in general revenue bonds for thepurchase of land and conservation easements in the Barton Springs Edwards Aquifer watershed.These lands will help protect the quality and quantity of rainfall runoff and recharge waters that providethe source of Barton Springs. Voters also approved Proposition 14, authorizing $77.7 million for parksand recreation projects for urban neighborhoods throughout the city.POLK COUNTY, IAMeasure A: Polk County Water & Land LegacyCitizens of Polk County, Iowa passed the Polk County Water & Land Legacy bond. This measure willprovide $50 million to protect drinking water sources, help prevent flooding, and improve parks andtrails. The average household in Polk County will spend no more than $9 each year to fund theseactivities.GEAUGA COUNTY, OH (Cleveland Metro Area)Issue 28Voters in the Cleveland area approved Issue 28, a 20-year, 1 mill replacement property levy which willgenerate $58 million for a wonderful network of 19 parks which provides excellent outdoor recreationfor thousands of people in the Cleveland area.LAKE COUNTY, OH (Cleveland Metro Area)Issue 7Voters in the Cleveland area approved Issue 7, a 10-year, .8 mill and additional property tax levy which
  3. 3. will generate $27 million for park improvements and trails for this network of parks along the coast ofLake Erie.BOZEMAN, MTParks and Trails BondBozeman residents passed a $15 million bond for parks, trails, athletic fields and natural areas. The20-year obligation bond will cost the Bozeman typical household less than $45 a year. Funds will beused solely for acquiring and improving parks, trails, stream corridors, and natural areas. In Bozeman,parks and trails support a large part of its recreation and tourism based economy.MARIN COUNTY, CAMeasure AVoters in the San Francisco Bay area of Marin County passed a 9-year, .25 cent sales tax increasewhich will generate $90 million to fund parks, open space and farmland acquisitions. Much of thisfunding will be used to create buffer zones around existing protected areas as well as natural wildlifecorridors.