Category Archives: Our Impact

NY Governor’s Budget a Step Forward for Environmental Protection Fund

In his budget for the next fiscal year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is proposing an increase of $10 million for the Environmental Protection Fund, the state’s major source of funding for farmland protection, open space conservation, clean water, parks, and many other environmental programs.

The increase, to $172 million, would continue reversing steep cuts made during the economic crisis. The EPF once stood at $255 million and had been scheduled to increase to $300 million before the recession.

Friends of New York’s Environment, a coalition of more than 200 environmental, health, agricultural, parks, recreational, and urban groups, strongly supports the increase proposed by the governor, but continues to advocate for the restoration of funding to pre-recession levels and eventual full funding of $300 million.

In addition, the coalition is working with the legislature to make sure that a boost to the EPF does not come at the expense of other state environmental programs. The EPF has traditionally been funded by the Real Estate Transfer Tax-which has rebounded and is projected to generate $1 billion annually for the next four years-as well as other, smaller revenue sources. Rather than relying on these sources to increase the EPF, the Governor has proposed using revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Program.

Additional funding for EPF would address environmental issues critical to the state’s quality of life and economy, such as clean water, storm resiliency, and jobs in forestry, agriculture, recycling, and tourism. Programs funded by the EPF generate $40 billion for the state economy and support hundreds of thousands of jobs, delivering a $7 return for every $1 invested, according to a study by The Trust for Public Land.

“In a year when New York State has a significant budget surplus, and investments are being made in many sectors, we must not miss the opportunity to continue to make necessary investments in the environment,” said Tom Gilbert, Senior Conservation Finance Director, The Trust for Public Land.

The Trust for Public Land Action Fund sponsors the media and grassroots advocacy campaign of Friends of New York’s Environment. For more information go to http://keepprotectingny.com/

Bill Would Boost Massachusetts CPA Trust Fund

State legislation has been introduced in Massachusetts to sustain a groundbreaking local-state partnership for community preservation.

The Community Preservation Act (CPA), passed in 2000, allows towns and cities to create dedicated local funding for open space protection, historic preservation, affordable housing, and recreation. Funds generated locally are matched annually by grants from a statewide CPA Trust Fund.

But this partnership is in jeopardy. Revenue for the CPA Trust Fund comes from fees collected at the Registries of Deeds. But those fees have never been adjusted, while the number of participating communities has reached 158 — 45 percent of the state’s municipalities.

Without additional funds, the CPA state match is projected to fall below 20 percent this year, a record low. “An Act to Sustain Community Preservation Revenue,” filed in the House by Rep. Stephen Kulik and in the Senate by Sen. Cynthia Stone Creem, would provide for a minimum 50 percent CPA Trust Fund distribution for all current CPA communities.

Since its inception, the Community Preservation Act has raised close to $1.4 billion and supported 7,500 projects. It has protected 21,800 acres of open space, preserved 3,600 historic sites and resources, funded 1,250 recreation projects, and developed 8,500 housing units.

For more information, go to the Community Preservation Coalition’s website at www.communitypreservation.org.

New Jersey Vote Secures Long-term Funding

NJ campaign photo 2014 croppedVoters in New Jersey approved a constitutional amendment on Election Day to permanently fund open space programs in the state. The measure passed by a vote of 65 percent. It was the 14th time the state’s voters have approved open space funding at the ballot.

The amendment allocates 4 percent of the state’s existing business tax to open space, farmland, and historic preservation–increasing to 6 percent by 2019. It is expected to generate $2.15 billion over the next 20 years for open space, farmland, and historic preservation.

The measure was referred to the ballot at the last possible moment in August, after three years of efforts by legislative leaders of both parties and the New Jersey Keep It Green coalition.

The Trust for Public Land Action Fund sponsored the legislative advocacy and ballot measure campaign by the coalition, which includes more than 185 land conservation, environmental, agricultural, hunting and fishing, and outdoor recreation organizations.

“The Coalition is extremely grateful to environmental champions Senators Smith and Bateman and Assemblyman John McKeon for their tireless commitment to protecting New Jersey’s natural resources and to Senate and Assembly leadership for providing voters the opportunity to pass this historic measure,” said NJ Keep It Green Chairman Tom Gilbert.

“The successful passage of Question 2 is a bi-partisan victory for all of New Jersey,” said Senator Christopher ‘Kip’ Bateman. “The Green Acres, Blue Acres, farmland and historic preservation programs have touched every part of our state, making our communities better places to live, work and raise our families.”

“This is a win for the future of New Jersey–for our economy, for our quality of life, for our children and grandchildren,? said Assemblyman John McKeon. “We only have a million acres left, and the funding this measure provides will help us protect those acres and continue our proud preservation legacy.”

Florida Voters Pass Record-breaking Conservation Measure

In an historic vote, Florida voters approved Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment dedicating $18 billion over the next 20 years to conserving, managing, and restoring land and water. It is the largest state ballot conservation funding measure ever.

“This should send a clear message to the governor and legislature that Florida voters overwhelmingly support increased state funding for water and land conservation, management, and restoration,” said Will Abberger, campaign manager of “Yes on 1.” Abberger temporarily stepped down as director of The Trust for Public Land’s Conservation Finance program to manage the campaign. The Trust for Public Land and The Trust for Public Land Action Fund were major supporters of the measure.

The campaign credited the success of the measure to the huge outpouring of support by citizens as well as more than 400 diverse nonprofit and civic organizations and businesses. Nearly a million voters signed petitions to place the amendment on the ballot, more than 4,500 individuals made contributions, and 50,000 people signed up to get involved in the campaign. The amendment received the editorial endorsement of nearly every major newspaper in the state and was endorsed by more than 50 respected elected officials at every level of government, Republican and Democrat alike.

Photo by Gregory Clay.

3 Big States Lead Record Vote for Land Conservation

A record $13 billion for land conservation was approved by voters across America on Election Day, including large statewide measures in Florida, New Jersey, and California.

“Voters in Florida, New Jersey, and California all approved measures which will mean billions of dollars will be spent to preserve the special places which are important to them and their families,” said Will Rogers, President of The Trust for Public Land, which works with The Action Fund to create public funding for parks and open space. “And that approval came from voters regardless of their party affiliation.”

Measures passed on Tuesday included these supported by The Trust for Public Land Action Fund:

Florida. An amendment to the state constitution, passed with 75 percent of the vote, will dedicate $18 billion over the next 20 years to conserving, restoring, and managing land and water. Half that amount is set aside for new land conservation, including in the Everglades. It was the largest land conservation measure ever approved in a single state.

New Jersey. In a campaign sponsored by The Trust for Public Land Action Fund, voters approved a constitutional amendment by 65-35% that will permanently dedicate a portion of the existing corporate business tax to open space, farmland, and historic preservation. The measure is expected to provide $2.15 billion over the next 20 years.

California. Voters passed, 67-33%, a $7.5 billion water bond that includes $1.5 billion for land conservation. It is the first new state funding dedicated to land conservation since 2006.

Portland, OR. A $68 million bond measure to repair and maintain the city’s parks won 72-28. The Trust for Public Land Action Fund sponsored the Fix Our Parks campaign.

Bernalillo County, NM. Voters in this county, which includes Albuquerque, gave 72-28% approval to a 15-year property tax for open space and natural areas.

New Bedford, MA. The sixth largest city in Massachusetts adopted the Community Preservation Act (CPA), along with the towns of Arlington and Boxborough. Tuesday’s vote brought the total of Massachusetts communities creating dedicated CPA funding for land conservation, recreation, historic preservation and affordable housing to 158, out of a total of 351.

Voters Nationwide To Decide On Billions For Conservation

The Associated Press

Billions of dollars for protecting land and water are at stake on Election Day, with dozens of measures on state, county, and city ballots to fund conservation. The Associated Press covered the story on October 30, in an article picked up by newspapers and television stations around the country:

Voters across the nation are deciding whether to set aside billions of dollars for parks and preservation in what some environmentalists are calling one of the most significant elections for land conservation in American history.

Pollsters say it’s one of the few places on Tuesday’s ballots where voters of all kinds can find common ground.

The most money at stake is in Florida, California and New Jersey.

“These are highly developed and dense states, and they are watching the good natural places disappear,” said Will Rogers, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Land, which tracks and raises money for the ballot measures. “People know if they don’t step up and protect it, it will be gone.”

Nationwide, it adds up to more than $15.7 billion overall in taxes and bonds for land and water conservation, the most in a quarter-century of elections, according to the trust’s data, which was independently verified by The Associated Press.

The Trust for Public Land Action Fund is sponsoring more than a dozen of ballot measure campaigns, including a statewide constitutional amendment in New Jersey, and local measures from New Bedford, Massachusetts to Bernalillo County, New Mexico, to Los Angeles County.

New York Times: “Yes” on New Jersey Open Space

“Once open space is gone, it is virtually impossible to get it back,” wrote the New York Times in calling for a “yes” vote on New Jersey Public Question 2, which would create long-term dedicated funding for clean water, open space, farmland, and historic places. Here is the endorsement:

“Public Question 2 is a constitutional amendment that would create a continuous source of revenue drawn from the state’s corporation business tax to replenish a popular (but now largely broke) environmental program that acquires open space, preserves farmlands and protects historical sites. Once open space is gone, it is virtually impossible to get it back. …Vote yes on Public Question 2.”

The Times joins a long list of supporters of the November 4 ballot measure, including elected officials of both parties, the New Jersey Farm Bureau, the Jersey City Council, and major state media outlets. The Trust for Public Land Action Fund is sponsoring the election campaign by NJ Keep It Green, a coalition of more than 185 statewide, local and regional organizations. Find out more at NJ Keep It Green.

Community Preservation Gains Momentum Across Massachusetts

Kayaking Nashua River in autumn at Surrenden FarmA new wave of ballot measures to adopt the Community Preservation Act (CPA) has spread across Massachusetts this November, as citizens from the historic seaport of New Bedford to rural Egremont in the Berkshires vote on whether to create local dedicated funds for protecting the character of their communities.

Now in its 14th year, CPA is a unique, innovative programthat empowers citizens to shape the future of their communities. Towns and cities adopt CPA through voter approval of a small property tax surcharge dedicated to open space protection, historic preservation, recreation, and affordable housing. CPA funds generated locally are augmented by a yearly distribution from the state CPA Trust Fund. So far, CPA has raised almost $1.2 billion statewide and funded the protection of almost 20,000 acres of open space, 1,000 outdoor recreation projects, 3,200 historic restoration projects, and 7,300 new units of affordable housing.

Communities voting in November are Arlington, Berkeley, Boxborough, Egremont, New Bedford, Newbury, Otis, and Woburn. In addition, Amherst and Essex are deciding whether to increase their existing CPA surcharge.

So far, 44 percent of the municipalities in the Massachusetts have adopted CPA, which continues to grow in popularity as cities and towns see the benefits it has brought to nearby communities. In addition, amendments to the act passed in 2012 increased funding options and flexibility, which has attracted new interest among municipalities seeking to invest in their historic and recreational resources–especially cities, which have tended to be underrepresented in the program. New Bedford, the sixth largest city in Massachusetts, is voting in November to generate over $1 million in funding for the revitalization of its historic waterfront and other community projects.

State lawmakers also gave CPA an important boost this summer by providing $25 million to the CPA Trust Fund from the state budget surplus for the second year in a row. State matching funds had diminished in recent years because the trust fund’s main revenue source, document recording fees at the state’s Registries of Deeds, has diminished with the declining real estate market. This decisive commitment by the state provides an important assurance to communities voting on CPA adoption in November.

For more information go to the Community Preservation Coalition.

New Jersey To Vote On Constitutional Amendment For Land Preservation

NJ farm w kids- TPL photoOn August 4, the last day to send a referen

“The Assembly clearly understands the critical importance of investing in programs that protect our water supply, preserve our family farms, provide for parks and other spaces, and safeguard our historic treasures,” said Tom Gilbert, chairman of NJ Keep It Green, the coalition of 185 organizations working to create long-term, dedicated open space preservation and stewardship funding for New Jersey. The Trust for Public Land Action Fund hosts the advocacy effort of NJ Keep it Green.

If approved by the voters, the amendment will reallocate to open space programs 71 percent of the four percent of state corporate business tax revenues already dedicated to environmental programs. Beginning in fiscal year 2020, it will dedicate an additional two percent of revenues to open space and environmental programs from that existing tax. The amendment will generate about $71 million annually for open space for the first five years, and $117 million in subsequent years, providing reduced but critical baseline funding. Approximately $30 million annually would go to other environmental programs that protect clean water.

The constitutional amendment will replenish the Green Acres program, one of the most successful state land conservation programs in the country. In addition, funding would go to the Blue Acres program to acquire land prone to flooding, as well farmland and historic preservation programs. It would also continue funding for watershed protection, underground storage tank removal, brownfields, and clean-ups of polluted sites.

Since its establishment in 1961, the Green Acres program has helped preserve over 650,000 acres of open space in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country. It is one of the state’s most popular taxpayer-funded programs, receiving broad public support because of its tangible results and direct benefits from tax dollars.

Assemblywoman Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) called the Assembly resolution “a declaration that we respect the land and water our children and grandchildren will inherit.”

New Jersey voters have never rejected a land conservation measure, passing all 13 ballot measures funding open space, farmland, and historic preservation since 1961. However, this will be the first permanent, dedicated funding mechanism for land conservation, and recent measures passed with much slimmer margins than in previous years.

Open space conservation in New Jersey has traditionally been funded through short-term voter-approved bond measures, leaving funding gaps, as happened when the most recent $400 million bond ran out in 2013. Allocation of the corporate business tax revenue will create sustainable funding that is not reliant on borrowing money. Passage of the measure will also provide certainty for local communities that on state matching funds for land conservation projects. Green Acres provides a 50 percent matching grant to local governments with an open space tax and a 25 percent match to those without one. All 21 counties and over 250 municipalities have established an open space tax by voter referendum. Passage of the constitutional amendment will assure the availability of matching funds and further leverage state dollars.

For more information and to get involved in campaign to pass the Clean Water, Open Space, Farmland and Historic Preservation Amendment, go to NJ Keep It Green.
Photo by John Rae.

Report Highlights 50 Years of America’s Land And Water Conservation Fund

Mesa Verde for FB
A bipartisan group of conservation leaders in the U.S. Congress joined the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition to release a new report. A bipartisan group of conservation leaders on the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which was signed into law on September 3, 1964.

The report was released on July 23, 50 years to the day from when the U. S. House of Representatives, by a voice vote, approved the creation of LWCF, a federal program for conserving critical lands and creating recreational opportunities for all Americans. This landmark legislation established a dedicated and permanent means for funding the protection of America’s irreplaceable natural, historic, cultural and outdoor landmarks and helping local communities create and maintain close-to-home parks and trails.

Attending the press conference announcing the report’s release were U.S. Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and U.S. Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA 8) and Peter DeFazio (D-OR 4).

LWCF does not use any taxpayer dollars–it is funded using a small portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas royalty payments.

“50 Years of Conserving America the Beautiful,” spotlights more than 100 treasured places across the country that have been protected by LWCF, and makes policy recommendations to sustain and strengthen the LWCF as it enters its sixth decade. These include budgeting LWCF at its full funding level of at least $900 million annually, reauthorizing the program permanently, and dedicating a small percentage of funds to making public lands truly public for sportsmen and recreationists.

The LWCF Coalition, which includes more than a thousand state and local landowners, small businesses, ranchers, sportsmen, veterans, outdoor recreationists and conservation organizations, has called on Congress to permanently reauthorize and fully fund LWCF. The Trust for Public Land Action Fund supports the coalition’s educational, grassroots, and legislative advocacy campaign.


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