Friday, November 17, 2006

Give me land, give me land...

U.S. conservation groups like Trust for Public Land and the Land Trust Alliance have been celebrating a November 7th election result that hasn't risen to the top of the media coverage: voters in 23 states approved raising their own taxes by $5.7 billion for new permanent parks or nature preserves.

A total of 99 state, county or local referenda for this purpose passed, many by overwhelming margins. That's out of 128 which were on ballots; the 77% winning percentage is similar to national elections going back a decade but the amounts keep getting bigger. The winning referenda this time were scattered around the country, six in Texas alone, with the biggest being California's at $2.25 billion.

That follows a huge conservation victory in Congress in August, an expansion of the tax benefits for donating permanent conservation easements on private land. That was buried within the federal Pension Protection Act (which included other provisions that were less clear and less welcome) .

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