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[greenyes] Results of Environmental Ballot Initiatives

Many Voters Agree To Raise Money For Green Space By JIM CARLTON

Voters who divided along ever-sharpening partisan lines in elections
nationwide Tuesday united behind at least one prominent issue: the desire to
preserve open space.

Voters in 16 states passed 64 of 77 local and state measures to raise about
$1.2 billion to protect lands for parks and open space -- often by an
overwhelming majority. The passage rate of 83% reinforces a trend of the
past few years of Americans electing to levy sales taxes on themselves or
borrow via municipal bonds to keep some of the last remaining tracts of open
land around cities from being paved over with subdivisions, office buildings
or other development.

In all, voters have committed to raise $22.9 billion for open-space
protection through 643 state and local measures since 1999, according to an
analysis by the Trust for Public Land, a nonprofit conservation group based
in Washington. Nationwide, these measures are likely to set aside hundreds
of thousands of acres.

"I think the main driver is that people want to protect their quality of
life by protecting things that are special to them, like views, farmland and
places for children to play," said Ernest Cook, the trust's director of
conservation finance.

Indeed, open-space measures largely have enjoyed support from voters in both
major political parties the past few years, despite their polarization on
high-profile environmental issues such as whether to drill in Alaska's
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as on tax and spending issues.
Republican-dominated Salt Lake City, for instance, passed a $5.4 million
bond this week for open space and parks with a 71% majority, while in
another Republican stronghold, Laramie County, Wyo., 60% of voters approved
a sales tax to raise $4.5 million for expansion and upgrades to a local

One of the largest measures in the country was adopted in Republican-leaning
Arapahoe County, Colo., where 54% of voters agreed to the first-ever local
sales tax in order to raise $170 million for land acquisition and protection
over the next decade. The county committee that headed up the Fair Share for
Open Space campaign comprised three Republicans and two Democrats.

"This is the kind of thing that we could find common ground on, because this
issue is in our neighborhoods," said Mike Rosser, a mortgage banker and
self-described conservative Republican who led the committee to raise a
quarter-cent sales tax in the suburban Denver county at the base of the
Colorado Rockies.

In suburban Montgomery County, Pa., meanwhile, both Republican and
Democratic lawmakers campaigned on behalf of a measure to borrow $150
million through a bond issue over the next decade for open-space protection.
The Green Fields-Green Towns measure passed by a landslide of 78% in the
Republican-dominated county outside Philadelphia, which followed the lead of
numerous other states and municipalities in the Northeast to try to slow
urban sprawl.

State Rep. Kate Harper, a Republican who led the open-space campaign, said
economics were as much an issue as quality of life behind the move to rein
in development. She said, for example, that Montgomery County might become
less attractive to the many pharmaceuticals companies with research campuses
there if the local farms and woodlands keep disappearing. The county of
about 700,000 residents is losing open space at the clip of about 2,200
acres a year, she said.

Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011
Cell    (608) 438-9062
email: anderson@no.address

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