Voters Approve $8.7 Billion for Parks, Climate and Conservation
In one of the most competitive Midterm elections in recent memory, voters across the country showed once again at the ballot box that they are not simply partisan red or blue, but willing to vote for a greener and healthier future for their communities.
According to a Trust for Public Land analysis, on Election Day, voters approved nearly $8.7 billion in new funding for parks, climate resilience, and land conservation. The $8.7 billion approved by voters on November 8 is the largest amount of new state and local funding approved for conservation since 2016.
Trust for Public Land actively helped design and organized voter support for parks, climate, and land conservation measures on the November 2022 ballot in 33 communities. Thirty of these measure have been approved, creating $8 billion in new funding. Altogether, the Trust for Public Land worked with local residents on over one-half of all of the parks and conservation measures on the ballot this November.
“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 value for providing clean air, clean water, and wildlife habitat, helping to mitigate and make communities more resilient to a changing climate, and improving our physical and mental health.” 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 large and small across the country voted to protect and expand their access to the outdoors.”
The 2022 election gave voters in 63 jurisdictions throughout the country an opportunity to weigh in on the value of outdoors spaces to their quality of life. Ballot measures funding new parks, climate resilience and adaptation, and land and water conservation were approved in at least 54 cities, counties, special districts, and states, an 86 percent passage rate. A complete listing of all November 2022 conservation ballot measures can be found on the Trust for Public Land’s LandVote website at www.LandVote.org
TPL is the national leader in supporting community organizations, and advising state and local governments, to design, pass, and implement state and local public funding measures for parks, climate, and conservation. Since the inception of its Conservation Finance program in 1996, the Trust for Public Land has helped pass 646 ballot measures—an 83 percent success rate—creating nearly $93 billion in voter-approved funding for parks, land conservation, and climate change mitigation.
The following ballot measures supported by the Trust for Public Land were approved by voters:
- Marin County –Marin County voters approved a new parcel tax to finance a $23 million bond to help purchase the 110-acre Tiburon Ridge, also known as the “Martha Property,” by 77%. Acquisition of this property would to protect critically endangered open space, natural areas, wildlife habitat, and water quality for surrounding Tiburon and Belvedere.
- Douglas County – Measure 1A, which will fund parks, trails, open space, historic preservation, and conservation for the next fifteen years, was approved by 88%. This renewal of the 0.17 percent sales and use tax is expected to raise $217 million.
- Routt County – Routt County voters approved Prop 1A, the reauthorization of the County’s Purchase of Development Rights (PDR) program, by 85%. The measure will provide continued funding for the PDR program for the next ten years to conserve water, wildlife, and working ranches. At a rate of 1.5 mills, the property tax levy is expected to raise $29 million.
- Windsor – Issue 3F was approved by 59% and will increase the Town’s sales and use tax by $1.62 million annually at a rate of 0.25 percent. The measure will provide dedicated funding for open space land acquisition, stewardship, operations, and maintenance. The sales and use tax increase is expected to raise $32 million over twenty years.
- Alachua County – Alachua County voters voted 52% to renew the county’s popular Wild Spaces & Public Places program, which will conservatively raise $246 million for parks and land conservation over ten years. An additional $246 million will also be raised for repair of existing roads, fire stations and public facilities, and provision of affordable housing. This one-cent sales tax will replace the existing half cent sales tax. This is the fourth conservation funding measure before Alachua County voters in 22 years and the third with assistance from TPL.
- Brevard County – Brevard County voters approved $50 million in bonds to extend the County’s Environmentally Endangered Lands program to acquire, improve and maintain wildlife habitat, wetlands, woodlands, and lands that protect Indian River Lagoon and St. Johns River by 70%. Funding will also maintain and improve nature education centers. The bonds will be backed by a property tax of up to 0.1465 mills.
- Indian River County – By 78%, Indian River County voters approved a $50 million bond to continue the County’s highly successful conservation land acquisition program. This is Indian River County’s third land conservation funding measure, following successful 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.
- Nassau County – By 68%, Nassau County voters approved a $30 million bond to establish a new county land conservation program to acquire lands that improve water quality and protect drinking water sources, natural areas, beaches and the St. Mary’s, Nassau and Amelia Rivers. Conservation of these lands will also help reduce flooding, conserve wildlife habitat, and provide outdoor recreation. Nassau County has already received 750 project proposals for places that residents would like to see conserved. TPL has worked with Nassau County since 2019 to move this measure to the ballot. The measure was referred to and subsequently removed from the November 2020 ballot due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Polk County – By 58%, Polk County voters approved a 0.20 mill property tax increase to preserve water resources, environmental lands, and fish and wildlife habitat. The measure would generate $200 million over twenty years and support $75 million bond.
- Forest Preserves of Cook County – TPL has been working since 2016 to establish dedicated funding for the Forest Preserves. Cook County voters approved the 0.025 percent property tax increase on the November ballot by 68%. The measure will generate over $1 billion over 25 years. This funding will be used to implement Forest Preserves’ “Next Century Conservation Plan,” which proposes to restore 30,000 acres and acquire land to expand the forest preserves, improving air and water quality and protecting wildlife habitat and natural areas for the Cook County, especially in Chicago’s southeastern suburbs.
- Community Preservation Act – Five Massachusetts municipalities voted to adopt the Community Preservation Act, a state program that allows communities to establish a local property tax dedicated to open space, outdoor recreation, historic preservation, and affordable housing. Worcester, the second largest city in Massachusetts, approved CPA at 52%, which will generate $24 million for watershed protection and affordable housing. The towns of Boylston, Natick, Shelburne and Westborough also approved CPA.
- Ravalli County – Based on a successful 2006 land conservation bond, Ravalli County voters approved a $10 million bond at 71%. The measure will extend funding for this western Montana county’s Open Lands Program, designed to manage increasing county growth, preserve open space, protect the Bitterroot River, bolster the local economy, and maintain wildlife habitat through voluntary conservation easements and the creation of new recreation amenities.
- New York (statewide) – At $4.2 billion, this is the largest state measure on the November 2022 ballot. It was referred to and subsequently removed from the November 2020 ballot due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the New York Legislature again referred the measure to the November 2022 ballot. New York voters approved the bond by 67%. In addition to providing significant funding for climate adaptation and resiliency, the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Jobs Bond requires that at least 40 percent of the funding be dedicated to projects that improve the environment in environmental justice communities, ensuring substantial and meaningful impact in communities that have been hardest hit by pollution historically.
- Gardiner – Following the successful New Paltz, NY, measure in 2020, Gardiner became the second municipality in Ulster County to approve a new real estate transfer tax to support a local Community Preservation Fund. The new tax was approved by 74%. The fund will be used to protect the town’s river and streams, drinking water source, working farms, and wildlife habitat. The 1.25 percent real estate transfer tax would generate an estimated $8 million over twenty years.
- Buncombe County – Buncombe County voters approved two companion bond questions on the ballot: a $30 million bond for land conservation, trails, and protecting farms and forests and a $40 million bond for affordable housing. The bonds were approved by 69% and 62% respectively. Both are backed by modest property tax levies. These bonds will enable Buncombe County to protect an estimated 6,000 acres of land by 2030, assist in completing a robust system of trails, and provide workforce housing in Buncombe County.
- Cleveland MetroParks – Metropolitan Cleveland voters approved a 10-year, 2.7 mill levy for the Parks District, replacing their existing levy, by 77%. The measure is expected to generate $960 million over ten years.
- Carbon County – Carbon County is the first county in Pennsylvania to consider dedicated funding for land conservation since 2008. The $10 million bond was approved by _81_% and will protect drinking water sources, the water quality of lakes, rivers, and streams, working farms and local food sources, and wildlife habitat.
- Westtown – Westtown voters approved both an earned income tax increase and property tax increase to help fund the acquisition of historic Crebilly Farm, site of the Revolutionary War Battle of the Brandywine. The measure passed at 66%.
- Beaufort County – Beaufort County voters approved by 53% the first county sales tax measure dedicated to land conservation under new state enabling legislation passed earlier this year. The one-cent sales will apply only for two years and raise up to $100 million to preserve land, purchase easements, and protect water quality. The measure enables land conservation not only in Beaufort County, but also in more rural and disadvantaged adjacent Jasper, Hampton, and Colleton Counties. This is the sixth land conservation funding measure considered by Beaufort County voters, following successful bond referenda in 2000, 2006, 2012, 2014, and 2018.
- Berkeley County – Berkeley County voters renewed the county’s one percent transportation sales tax to both repair roads and, for the first time, also fund a county “greenbelt” program by 74%. The Berkeley County program is modeled on neighboring Charleston County’s successful greenbelt program. The Berkeley County program is estimated to generate $59 million for the purchase of property for conservation, passive and active greenspace, protecting natural resources, agricultural or heritage landscapes, and scenic corridors.
- Dorchester County – The Dorchester County approved a renewal of their transportation sales tax that also includes funding for a new “greenbelt” program by 59%. This measure will generate $35 million to protect land and improve water quality in this Charleston-area community which is experiencing rapid growth. This is the third ballot measure TPL has supported in Dorchester County, having worked on successful park bonds in 2010 and 2019.
- Kendall County – Located deep in the heart of the Texas Hill Country, Kendall County is the fifth fastest growing in the country. Kendall County voters approved a $20 million bond for land conservation to protect the Guadalupe River, drinking water sources, working farms and ranches, and wildlife habitat by 67%.
- Cache County – Voters in Cache County, UT approved a $20 million general obligation bond at 54%. The measure will fund open space land acquisition to protect the water quality, wildlife habitat, and agricultural lands. Funds from the bond will also be spent on addition trails, trail connectivity, and maintaining the integrity of the scenic mountain vistas throughout the county.
- Salt Lake City – At 69%, Salt Lake City voters approved an $85 million general obligation bond to the November ballot to fund key priorities in the city’s park master plan and to ensure equitable investment into parks and trails throughout the city. City Council cited seven specific projects for funding that will improve quality of life, water and air quality, and create more access to open space for all residents, with a particular emphasis on the historically underserved west side of the city.
- King County – Voters in the greater Seattle area of King County voted 68% for a measure that will double the existing mill levy enabled by Washington’s Conservation Futures program. The measure will generate $440 million with the goal of conserving 65,000 acres of open space over the next thirty years, including forests, trails, rivers, farmlands, and green spaces.
- Metro Parks Tacoma – Voters in metropolitan Tacoma voted 63% to restore their park district’s 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 will generate to $148 million to fund wildfire prevention, operations and maintenance of parks and facilities, preserve open space, expand youth programming, and improve safety and security.
About The 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 $93 billion in public funding for parks and public lands, and connected more than 9 million people to the outdoors. To learn more, visit www.tpl.org .