When Americans lined up to vote in November for their next president of the United States, 5 states also passed propositions to conserve fresh water, ocean, and terrestrial ecosystems, totaling $2.2 billion of conservation projects.
Among the proposals were a broad range of conservation and funding mechanisms that include everything from aquifer protection and playground maintenance.
In Michigan, voters passed Prop 1 which safeguards and expands the Natural Resource Trust Fund and the State Park Endowment Fund, from which $1 billion for support of parks, water sources, and nature has flowed since its inception.
The money is not generated through taxation but rather through royalties on oil, gas, and mineral extraction occuring on Michigan public lands. In this way business, often perceived as the enemy of conservation, is responsible directly for its maintenance and support.
It wasn’t only Michigan where voters voices their support for public lands and natural resources.
A vote for nature
Colorado’s Question 7A was passed by voters authorizing a $1.90 property tax per $100,000 of property market value to raise money to protect the Colorado River District on the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
According to the ballot initiative website, 40 million people across 7 states, and economic activity worth $1.4 trillion, are all tied to the Colorado River, and protecting it from drought and rising temperatures are key to ensuring the livelihood of people in the West.
In Hays County, Texas, voters passed Proposition A, which authorized $75 million of bond financing to be used to conserve wildlife habitat in the fastest growing county in Texas, and one of the fastest in the nation. Some of the money will go to support the Edwards Reservoir, a major source of drinking water for central Texas and the city of San Antonio.
In Oregon, a five-year tax of about 80 cents per $1,000 will go, if Prop. 26-213 passes, to funding conservation efforts of forests around rivers and streams in the areas surrounding the capital of Portland, as well as replenish the maintenance budget for state and local parks and playgrounds by 11%.
Youth and community programs and centers would be kept alive and operating such as art classes, fitness centers, music centers, and more.
In New Paltz, New York, Local Law No. 1 was passed to create $3.5 million in funding for the scenic Hudson River Valley town to use for protecting freshwater sources, working farms, and pristine wildlife habitat critical to New Paltz’ natural economy.
“I think this shows how much our residents value land preservation and open space and honestly I believe that this is the most important thing New Paltz has done in decades,” said town supervisor Neil Bettez to a local newspaper.
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