Trust for Public Land Throws Support Behind Conservation Measures on the Ballot
Trust for Public Land announced its support for six significant conservation funding measures on ballots across the country this Election Day, Nov. 7, 2023. These measures represent a collective effort to safeguard natural areas, protect wildlife habitat, mitigate wildfire risks, enhance park access and invest in climate resilience.
“The 2023 state and local parks and conservation funding ballot measures supported by Trust for Public Land will provide more equitable access to parks, protect air and water quality and address climate change, while safeguarding critical wildlife habitat and natural areas in communities across the country, underscoring the enduring value of our parks and conservation lands,” said Will Abberger, director of Conservation Finance at Trust for Public Land.
As a trusted leader in connecting communities to the benefits of the outdoors and advocating for equitable access to green spaces, TPL has actively assisted in designing and advocating for ballot measures in Colorado, Montana, New York, South Carolina, and Texas in 2023. Altogether, Trust for Public Land worked with local residents on nearly one-quarter of all of the parks and conservation measures on the ballot this year and one-half of the funding. These measures are crucial to ensure that park and conservation efforts receive the funding they need to thrive and protect the environment and access to nature for future generations.
“From Colorado to Texas, to Montana to Chatham, N.Y., and Charleston, S.C., voters want greater investments in conservation and parks. TPL is working to help organize campaigns and get a ‘Yes’ vote for these vital parks and conservation funding measures,” Abberger said.
Since 1996, Trust for Public Land has helped state and local communities across the country generate more than $93 billion in voter-approved public funds for land protection for parks and trails creation, wildlife habitat, working farms and ranches, drinking water and green spaces, as well as climate resiliency and equitable access to the outdoors.
In 2023, TPL is supporting the following conservation measures:
- In 2016 in Grand County, Colo., the Open Lands, Rivers, and Trails Fund was established as part of the approval of a dedicated 10-year, 0.3% sales tax. This November, voters will decide whether to permanently extend the OLRT Program to continue to invest in protecting open space, working farms and ranches, and wildlife habitat. Additionally, Grand County has identified wildland fire prevention and mitigation projects and a broader range of water quality protection and trail projects as new needs. If approved, the 0.3% sales tax will generate an estimated $66 million over twenty years.
- Voters in the City of Louisville, Colo., will have the opportunity to extend and increase the city’s program to acquire, improve, restore, preserve, protect and maintain open space land. The measure, which is estimated to generate $72 million over 20 years, will also provide funding to mitigate wildfire risks within open space areas.
- Voters in Billings, Mont., will decide whether to approve a $143 million bond. If passed, funds will be used for new and capital improvements to parks, trails and playgrounds throughout the city, and enhance equitable park access throughout the city. The Billings measure would also provide local matching funds to unlock state and federal grants and to create a new recreation center on the south side of the city.
- Following the successful measures in New Paltz, N.Y., in 2020 and Gardiner and Marbletown in 2022, this year Chatham, N.Y., is the first municipality in Columbia County to place a new real estate transfer tax to support a local Community Preservation Fund on the ballot. The fund will be used to protect the town’s river and streams, drinking water source, working farms and wildlife habitat. The 1.5% real estate transfer tax would generate an estimated $7.5 million over 20 years.
- Voters in Charleston, S.C., will decide on a $70 million bond to improve their city’s parks and recreation facilities. The proposal includes projects in each of the city’s 12 council districts. Based on public input gathered in the city’s 2022 parks master plan, the effort will include new or improved passive parks, playgrounds, sports fields, walking and biking trails, aquatic centers, indoor recreational spaces and courts for tennis, pickleball and basketball.
- This year Texas is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its state parks system. To mark the centennial, Texas voters statewide will have the opportunity to vote on a state constitutional amendment to create the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund. The $1 billion fund will help secure new state parks for future generations of Texans to explore and enjoy without increasing taxes. Investing in parks conserves land and water resources, which protects Texas’ quality of life so future generations can enjoy the state’s land, water and natural beauty.