Archive for November, 2010

Conservation finance links, 11/30

November 30, 2010

Votomatic - National Museum of American Histor/Wikipedia Commons

Twice each month TPL’s Conservation Finance service publishes links to state and local conservation finance stories from around the nation.  As always, TPL’s online LandVote database provides the best source of data on conservation finance measures since 1988.

Arizona
Pima County may need bond vote for open space parcel
Economy preventing Pima County bond election

California
Despite pledges to spend on habitat, ’04 San Diego County sales tax has not met goals
Future of $20M Truckee park bond remains uncertain

Colorado
Article on Boulder land policies
Boulder County begins spending newly approved open space revenue

Massachusetts
Saugus to revisit CPA

Montana
Lewis and Clark County authorizes first funding from 2008 open space bond

New Jersey
Pineland mayors ask state to restore PILOT open space funding

New York
Audit shows Southampton mispent CPF funds

Pennsylvania
New report details economic benefits in Southeast PA
More on new report
And more

Ohio
After two park tax losses in 2010, Licking County PD should be evaluated

Oklahoma
Nice profile of land trust that teamed with TPL on easement acquisition

Rhode Island
Successful branding helped statewide open space bond measure

South Carolina
Dorchester County sets hearing on open space bond authorization

Texas
With another park bond on the way, Dallas park board chief sets goals for city parks

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Chattanooga wins trails award

November 18, 2010

Tennessee Riverpark - Photo: Billy Weeks

American Trails has been holding its biennial symposium in Chattanooga the last few days. Founded in 1988, American Trails bills itself as “the only national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests, including hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, horseback riding, water trails, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, trail motorcycling, ATVs, snowmobiling and four-wheeling.”

The clever tag line for this year’s symposium summarizes an organizational belief that is hard to refute: “Trails: The Green Way for America.”

At the symposium, American Trails presented awards, and it should probably come as no surprise that two of them went to a project and a foundation within the event’s host city.

In the 1980s, Chattanooga—then a fading industrial center—very deliberately plotted a new future by enriching its quality of life, in part by creating trails and greenways. By the time TPL put together its first report on the economic benefits of parks and open space, in 1999, Chattanooga was a national poster child for a city that was attracting new businesses by creating a desirable place to live. By that time, as well, TPL had opened a local office in Chattanooga and was helping the community implement an ambitious greenway program, work that continues to this day.

So congratulations to Chattanooga for winning American Trails’ Planning/Design Award for its 13-mile-long Tennessee Riverpark. According to the American Trails website,

[The Riverparks'] development was a turning point for Chattanooga, revitalizing downtown and making trails more accessible to the local community. The most comprehensive and inclusive planning process ever undertaken in Chattanooga began in 1985 with an appointed task force. Their goal was to orchestrate a true, all-inclusive community planning process. After hundreds of public and private meetings involving thousands of citizens, the Tennessee Riverpark Master Plan was established. The vision operated under the premise that the Chattanooga riverfront was owned by everyone and should be developed “under a guiding idea which will bring its banks to life, make it a central point of pride for the City’s people, and move it to the forefront of national consciousness.” By reconnecting with the river, the city overhauled its image and fueled the engine of central economic development. Its impact has been so immense that the Riverfront Renaissance Story is being told internationally.

A second award, known as the Corporate Award, went to the Chattanooga-based Lyndhurst Foundation for “tremendous support and exemplary service for trails planning and development in the east Tennessee and north Georgia region.”

The foundation focuses on the enhancement and enrichment of the natural, educational, cultural, and urban environment of Chattanooga and the surrounding region. The foundation’s service has benefited thousands of people in the region by creating various outdoor recreational opportunities for them to enjoy. Organizations they have partnered with for better trails include the Trust for Public Land’s Chattanooga Office, The Lulu Lake Land Trust, the Southeast Watershed Forum, and the Cumberland Trail Conference.

It’s great to see this well-deserved recognition for the foundation’s important contributions to Chattanooga’s quality of life.

Details of all the awards can be found on American Trails website. More information on the economic benefits of parks and open space can be found in the benefits section of TPL’s website.

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Conservation finance links, November 15

November 15, 2010

Twice each month TPL’s Conservation Finance service publishes links to state and local conservation finance stories from around the nation.  This first posting after the election, includes stories on some of the measures voters faced on November 2.  Of the 35 measures on last-week’s ballots, 28 were approved, generating more than $2 billion in new conservation funding.  As always, TPL’s online LandVote database provides the best source of data on conservation finance measures since 1988.

Colorado
Boulder County continues to hold slim lead
Lawmakers approve conservation easement review

Iowa
Despite statewide trust fund success, GOP leaders do not plan on increasing sales tax

Massachusetts
Middleboro CPA to be delayed until next summer
More on Middleboro CPA
State is buying land at a rate of 54 acres a day
Sunderland one of 4 communities to approve CPA on election day

Michigan
Meridian Township renews open space tax

Minnesota
Public access to open space a key question in Washington County

Missouri
Columbia voters approve parks sales tax

New Jersey
Southern NJ gaining farms while losing farmland
Old Bridge Township voters end open space tax after 10 years

South Carolina
Despite overwhelming support Dorchester County open space bond may be delayed

Texas
Dallas preparing new parks bond package

Utah
Snyderville Basin voters overwhelmingly approve open space bond
West Valley voters reject open space bond

Washington
Sustaining Seattle parks during tight budgets

Wisconsin
Iowa success leads the way for Wisconsin conservation funding

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Maps help create payday for California parks

November 10, 2010

Boeddeker Park, in San Francisco's Tenderloin District, will be rebuilt with Proposition 84 and TPL donor funds.

Four years after California voters authorized $400 million for new and revitalized parks, the first grants were announced earlier this week. Sixty-two park projects across the state will receive a total of $184 million in state funds from Proposition 84, passed in 2006.

This was a gratifying result for TPL. Our Conservation Finance service worked hard to help pass Proposition 84, and it was nice to see funds begin flowing to parks—including to a few that TPL is helping to create or rebuild.

That the money has begun arriving at all is thanks in part to the work of TPL’s Vision folks. I wrote about that aspect of the story in a Land&People newsbrief last year.

California state legislators had money for parks but couldn’t spend it. In 2006, as part of state ballot Proposition 84, voters authorized $400 million for new and revitalized parks. The initiative required enabling legislation to determine where the money would go. One common way of allocating funds is by population density, which would favor the largest cities. But legislators from other parts of the state protested that their communities needed parks, too.

So legislators, working with a coalition of conservation, social justice, and park advocates, including TPL, proposed an allocation system based on need. The proposed criteria focused not on population but on poverty and access to parks. Still, some legislators were concerned that these criteria would leave areas of the state without funding.

What legislators and park advocates needed was an easy and graphic way to grasp where the money would go under various scenarios. So TPL’s director of government relations in California, Rachel Dinno, put in a request to TPL’s national GIS team. Could they create interactive maps that showed, based on various criteria, where were the highest needs for parks across the state?

This task was similar to work the GIS team does every day to help communities nationwide visualize conservation and park choices. TPL already had a park-deficit computer model to map existing park acres per resident. Now the team added more than 35 map layers showing such variables as population density, projected growth, economics, age, mobility, and health. And it constructed an interface to show how changing these variables would affect where the money would go.

In the end, legislators settled on two criteria. To qualify to apply for the funds, communities needed to have less than three acres of parkland per thousand residents or a median household income of less than 80 percent of the household average. TPL was able to supply maps by zip code to show which communities would qualify. They showed that portions of every legislative district would qualify for funds.

Passed in September 2008, the Parks Development and Community Revitalization Act authorized the state parks department to set up the grants program. “It was amazing how the discussion shifted once we had the maps,” says Dinno. “If a picture is worth a thousand words, these maps were worth a thousand parks.”

Or, in this instance, worth $184 million for 62 parks, with more on the way in a second round of grants to be awarded later. Of course, this comes nowhere near meeting the enormous need for parks throughout California. According to a short article in the Sacramento Bee, the California Department of Parks and Recreation “received more than 475 applications totaling $1.6 billion. That is four times more than all the funding available via Prop. 84 for parks.”

Additional information on TPL Conservation Finance and Conservation Vision services is available at http://www.tpl.org/services. Sign up for a free subscription to Land&People magazine at www.tpl.org/freel&p.

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A victory for the orange (and green)

November 3, 2010

San Francisco Chronicle

It has been a notable day at TPL central, where we have been studying the results of yesterday’s election to the tune of cheers and marching bands nine floors below. Orange confetti—a team color of the San Francisco Giants—swirled in the concrete canyons outside the windows.  There were probably a few San Franciscans who did not attend the Giants’ World Series victory celebration, but from above it looked as though all 800,000 of us might be in the streets.

And the elections? Coincidently, the record for conservation at the ballot box yesterday was 80 percent, exactly the same as the Giant’s four-games-to-one World Series victory—an impressive showing for the team in green. In all, 28 of the 35 conservation funding measures on ballots nationwide were approved, generating just over $2 billion dollars in conservation funding. 

Otherwise, voters seemed to be in an angry and frugal mood. But even as they focused on their disappointment over the state of the economy, they voted to spend money for conservation. To me this suggests that conservation is a truly bipartisan issue. But what’s more important, conservation is a local, quality-of-life issue. Even voters inclined to say “no” reflexively may find themselves saying “yes” to a park next door or saving the last farm in town. 

Its hard to deny that we live in a polarized and politically divided country. Dare we hope that conservation is one issue that holds us together? Congratulations to all the states and communities celebrating home town conservation victories today.

For details of all of yesterday’s conservation funding measures—as well as all such measures going back to 1988—go to www.landvote.org.  There is a press release on yesterday’s measures here.  And for information of TPL’s work helping states and communities pass conservation funding measures, go to www.tpl.org/services.

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Conservation finance links, November 1

November 1, 2010

Twice each month TPL’s Conservation Finance service publishes links to state and local conservation finance stories from around the nation.

According to TPL’s LandVote database, since 1988 states and communities nationwide have approved 2263 conservation finance measures that have generated nearly $54.2 billion in funding for local parks, greenways, and natural areas.

This year, there are statewide measures on the ballot in California, Iowa, Maine, Rhode Island, and Oregon.  And communities in more than a dozen states will vote on conservation funding measures.

Now, here are today’s conservation finance links. We’ll be back on the other side of the election.

California
Redlands look at ways to preserve open space

Colorado
Opinion piece on Boulder County open space measure

Florida
Amendment 4 would require voter approval for land use decisions

Iowa
Iowa set to vote on conservation trust fund
More on Iowa measure

Massachusetts
After defeat in the Spring, Sunderland set to vote again on CPA
Middleboro voters set to decide on CPA
Marborough voters to decide on CPA as well
Vineyard towns track falling CPA match

Missouri
What the Columbia sales tax would buy

New Jersey
Public to get say on Cumberland County open space plan
More on Cumberland County plan
Park Ridge voters to see open space tax tomorrow
Old Bridge voters prepare for open space tax

Oregon
Tigard bond editorial

Rhode Island
More on Rhode Island statewide open space bond
Opinion piece on Narragansett open space bond
More on Narragansett open space bond

Utah
West Valley open space bond touted as economic development tool

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