Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Voters Take Conservation Funding Issues into their Own Hands
By Terry Gibson, Senior Editor

For sportsman and other outdoor enthusiasts, one of the most troubling aspects of the 2012 election race was the near absence of constructive discussion about the role that conserving and restoring our natural resources plays in economic recovery.

With a few exceptions, the presidential candidates, as well as those vying for office in U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, assiduously avoided the subject of our great outdoors and the health of environment. Worse yet, some thought that they could earn points with scared voters by blaming the recession and national debt on those of us who work to put sound, enforced policies and regulations in place—policies and regulations to protect the natural resources that sustain us economically, and in terms of our outdoorsy way of life.

Scariest of all, rule-makers around the country seem to think that the shortest road to economic recovery is to remove protections on some core economic engines—our fish, wildlife and the habitats they depend on—and slash the budgets of the agencies in charge of protecting those treasures. What a road to ruin.

Fortunately, they’re not getting away with it. In the months leading up to November 6, voters in many states took vital conservation matters into their own hands. Voters in 21 states approved ballot measures that will provide over $1 billion overall, including $767 million in new funding to support water quality protection, parks, natural areas and working farms and ranches. For anglers, the water quality component is really inspiring. It demonstrates that our community is profoundly aware that polluted water is the number one threat related to healthy ecosystems and recreational fishing access in this country.

Most of these ballot measures earned their spot on the ticket the hard way, thanks to Herculean petition-signature collection efforts that surpassed the respective state’s minimum number requirements. These are called “popular referendums,” essentially measures placed on the ballot because hundreds of thousands of registered voters felt strongly that the state’s citizens themselves should get to decide whether to accept or reject funding for fish and wildlife. The electorates responded tremendously in favor of dedicated funding in support of our resources. An 81-percent overall approval rate topped the long-term 76 percent approval rate for ballot measures. Now that’s government for the people by the people, and for the wildlife that can’t vote.

Props go to The Trust for Public Land and the Conservation Campaign, which funded and helped organize many of these ballot initiatives. Complete results can be found on The Trust for Public Land's LandVote website

Notable wins include:

Alabama Forever Wild: Alabama voters statewide approved a 20-year
renewal of the state's successful Forever Wild land conservation
program by 75 percent.  This will provide $300 million to for
conservation over 20 years.

Land for Maine's Future: Maine voters also approved additional
funding for the Land for Maine's Future land conservation program,
voting 62 percent in favor of a $5 million bond.

Houston, TX, Prop. B - Houston voters overwhelmingly approved a $166
million parks bond to fund completion of the city's bayou greenways
network, voting 68 percent in favor of the bond.

Gunnison County, CO - Gunnison County, Colorado voters approved
renewal of the sales tax supporting their land conservation program by
80 percent.  The sales tax will provide nearly $5 million for land

Bozeman, MT - Voters in Bozeman overwhelmingly approved a $15 million
bond for land conservation, which will fund a key TPL project, Story
Mill.  The margin of victory was 73-27.

Bend and Willamalane, OR - TPL won both Oregon park district
measures in Willamalane and Bend.  Together, these bonds will provide
$49 million for parks and natural areas.

No comments:

Post a Comment