Although people are generally dismayed with politicians and Congress, there is real, broad support for open space protection around the country. In total, voters approved over $29 billion in funding for land and water protection across a range of states and local governments last week. Some of the examples include:
● Rhode Island – voters approved a bond providing $53 million in funding for parks, farmland protection, clean water infrastructure, brownfields and floodplain protection. Garnering over 70% of the vote, this “Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities” bond was supported by a broad coalition including the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce, Rhode Island AFL-CIO, Save the Bay and others.
● Florida – approximately 75% of Florida voters approved $18 billion in funding for land and water protection. Of that amount, over half is for conservation of new land.
● New Jersey – voters here also approved funding of $2.8 billion for preservation of open space, farmland and historic sites by dedicating 6% of the state’s corporate business tax revenue. Although the measure had broad support, some were concerned about the adverse impact on other environmental programs like brownfields and water quality monitoring.
And, closer to home, several local parks initiatives also passed at the ballot box:
● Wake Forest – voters here also approved two bonds for approximately $20 million also for parks and greenways.
This is good news for local communities and conservation efforts. TNC’s Lynn Scarlett provides a cogent analysis of how this happened and attributes these wins to a number of factors including the recognition of the value of open space to provide multiple benefits like flood control and clean water, and that conservation crosses common dividing lines, galvanizing a broad cross section of support.
That resonates here at TLC and we’re excited for what lies ahead for the Triangle in 2015!
For more information on these and other ballot measures, see the Trust for Public Land’s site www.landvote.org.