In 2022, voters in 14 states considered ballot measures secures public funding and forward-looking policies to protect people and nature. Seventeen measures passed, totaling more than $7 billion for conservation.
These ballot measures reflect a wide variety of geographies, environments, and communities. The impacts of these successes reach far beyond land and water conservation for biodiversity alone. A number of these measures help improve air and water quality and improve access to greenspace, highlighting the important nexus between our 2030 ecological and equity goals.
New York: The $4.2 billion Clean Water, Clean Air and Green Jobs bond act will pay for projects to protect clean drinking water, reduce air pollution, upgrade infrastructure, reduce climate change impacts including flooding and deadly heat, and conserve natural resources that New Yorkers depend on. It will also support 84,000 family sustaining jobs. Thirty-five percent of this funding will support projects in disadvantaged communities, those that have been most historically impacted by pollution.
Cook County, Ill.: The Cook County property tax levy puts $1 billion over 20 years toward expanding and maintaining the Forest Preserves District, which is essential for protecting the Chicago region’s biodiversity. This measure will positively impact more than five million residents by sequestering carbon emissions and protecting ecologically significant floodplains in the 70,000-acre district.
Carbon County, Pa.: The $10 million bond dedicates funding to land and water protection as well as farmland preservation. Carbon County includes the Kittatinny Ridge, a biodiversity superhighway of the Appalachian Mountain Range, and one of TNC’s top priorities for protection.
Boulder County, Colo.: The sales tax will raise up to $200 million over the next 20 years to fund forest health and wildfire resiliency.
Routt County, Colo.: The purchase of development rights program has been reauthorized with $29 million in additional funding. This program is an important funding stream in a priority conservation region.
Rhode Island: The $50 million "Green Economy and Clean Water" bond provides funding for open space acquisition, parks, forest protection, restoration of Narragansett Bay, municipal climate resilience, and funding for the Providence Zoo.
Portland, Ore.: The Portland Metro Parks and Nature levy renewal will provide $97.5 million over the next five years to address water quality, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and connect people with nature across the region’s 18,000 acres of parks, trails and natural areas. The measure also has a strong equity component and will help the greater Portland area become more resilient to climate change.
Beaufort County, S.C.: The “green space” sales tax will create $100 million for conservation priorities in one of the fastest growing regions in South Carolina.
Berkeley County, S.C.: The county measure will set aside $58.7 million of the sales and use tax to go towards a “greenbelt” program that will support parks and open space protection.
Dorchester County, S.C.: The county measure will set aside $35 million of the sales and use tax to go towards a “greenbelt” program that will support parks and open space protection.
Brevard County, Fla.: The $50 million bond renewal will fund a popular land conservation program that’s been in existence for more than 30 years - the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program (EELP). EELP lands also serve as environmental education centers for the public and school children.
Kendall County, Texas: The Kendall County bond measure will generate $20 million for acquiring open space, conservation land, and conservation easements. It will also would provide funds to conserve rural working lands and natural areas that protect valuable water sources like the Guadalupe River.
Cache County, Utah: The bond will raise $20 million over 10 years for conservation easements to protect water quality, wildlife habitat, and farms.
Cleveland, Ohio: Cleveland Metroparks is a 23,000-acre network of nature preserves that encircle the city of Cleveland and run adjacent to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The ballot measure dedicates $940 million over ten years for the park system.
King County, Wash.: King County is increasing their share of a conservation futures tax to provide $269 million in funding for the protection of salmon habitat, forests and parks in the Seattle area.
Denver, Colo.: The city will allocate $360 million over the next nine years to build sidewalks in disenfranchised areas of Denver. The tax has strong equity components and would provide safe transportation routes.
San Francisco, Calif.: Measure J - "The Safe, Accessible Parks for ALL" measure - provides health and equity benefits for San Francisco residents by affirming the Golden Gate Park Access and Safety Plan, approved by the Board of Supervisors in April.