Environmental Ballot Measures Get Widespread Approval by American Voters

McLain State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior.

McLain State Park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the shores of Lake Superior. Yinan Chen/Wikimedia Commons

American voters approved ballot measures worth nearly $3.7 billion this election in support of parks, climate resilience, and land conservation, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land. Many of the successful measures focused on improving equitable access to parks, as well as countering the disproportionate impact of climate change on low-income communities and communities of color.

“During the current pandemic we have seen that our parks and public lands are more important than ever for people to safely get outside for their physical and mental health,” Will Abberger, director of conservation finance at the Trust for Public Land, said in a statement.

Altogether, 49 conservation-focused measures were on the ballot across 19 states this year, E&E News reported. Those approved include a “climate sales tax” in Denver, Colorado, estimated to generate $800 million over 20 years for climate projects targeted at low-income and minority communities; a $735 million school bond in Oakland, California to fund green schoolyards; the lifting of a cap on how much money the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund can receive from royalties from oil, gas, and mining to create and protect public lands; and statewide measures in Montana to legalize and tax recreational marijuana, the proceeds of which will go toward land conservation.

“The ballot measures approved by voters will provide more equitable access to parks, protect air and water quality, help address climate change, and protect critical wildlife habitat in communities across the country,” said Abberger.