Take Action for the West You Love
Vote Early and Often
There are very few times in life when any of us holds the power to make a dramatic, far-reaching impact on the future of our community and environment - with just the stroke of a pen. But on Election Day 2012, many of us will have the ability to do just that.
The Sonoran Institute has been hard at work with our local partners throughout the West to bring important conservation-related initiatives to a vote. We are particularly excited about three quality-of-life and open space ballot measures in Arizona, Colorado, and Montana. To put the power of an informed vote in your hands, I have asked Sonoran team members in these states to provide a brief summary of these three ballot measures.
Arizona - Vote YES on Ballot Proposition 119
Prop 119 is a constitutional amendment to authorize the exchange of state trust lands for federal public lands in order to protect military bases from encroachment, and to encourage the improved management and care of trust lands with important natural and cultural assets.
As urban expansion has continued over the last 20 years, military facilities that were once well buffered have had their missions threatened by incompatible nearby development. Development has also threatened many of our treasured natural landscapes. In the mid-2000s, the only tool available to allow the conservation of ecologically valuable state trust lands - land exchanges - was declared unconstitutional.
State lands in Arizona are required by law to be managed for highest and best use, which means that they are open to be sold or leased for residential, commercial, and industrial development. Because of the constitutional constraints, Arizona is currently prevented from engaging in land exchanges with the federal government, even in cases where both parties would benefit. Prop 119 would change that.
Voting yes will give Arizona a critical tool for protecting military facilities and the tremendous economic benefits they bring to our state. It will also give us a conservation tool for preserving some of Arizona's natural crown jewels - places like Walnut Canyon and the Verde River headwaters in northern Arizona, Cienega Creek in southern Arizona, and many others.
Learn more about Prop 119
View the Prop 119 campaign commercial
Garfield County, Colorado - Vote YES on 1A
Protect our Ranchlands, Rivers and Recreation Economy
Garfield County, Colorado's natural resources make it an attractive destination to live, work, and play. However, like so many other beautiful places across the West, continued development threatens the county's most valued assets - the working ranches and farms well-stewarded by the families of the Colorado and Roaring Fork river valleys; land along rivers and streams that protect water quality; important wildlife habitat; and parks, trails, river access, and other amenities that enhance the county's economy and quality of life.
Our Colorado office partnered with the citizen-led Garfield Legacy Project to place an open space and trails measure on this November's ballot. The measure would establish a quarter-cent (25¢ on every $100) sales tax to purchase development rights and land from willing landowners to help protect and enhance the county's valuable ranchlands, rivers, and recreation economy.
The proposal is streamlined, including a 5 percent cap on administrative costs, a 10-year sunset, an independent audit, and a citizen review board. It is a unique opportunity to protect water quality and quantity, the county's Western heritage, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities that attract residents and tourists alike.
We need your help to make this opportunity a reality. Together, we can create a lasting legacy for Garfield County!
Learn more about this initiative
View the Garfield County Greenprint Video
In Bozeman, Montana - Vote YES for Open Space
Bozeman voters have the opportunity to say "yes" to fund a $15 million bond to improve, expand, and create new parks, trails, sports fields, and natural areas.
With its well-earned reputation as a highly livable city, Bozeman continues to attract residents and visitors, but its existing parks and trails are not keeping pace. The current system for creating parks relies on new developments, which will never provide the flagship parks, critical trail connections, or athletic fields necessary to meet the needs of the growing community.
In addition to the recreation opportunities they will provide, improvements to parks, trails, and natural areas help improve the local economy by enhancing property values, promoting tourism, and bringing in new businesses. Development of athletic fields can also help draw in regional tournaments, creating millions in revenue for local businesses.
A silver lining of our economic downturn has been the historically low price of land. Parks and trails are part of Bozeman's infrastructure and transportation network, and no other funding mechanisms currently exist to expand parks and trails. Investing now in protecting Bozeman's quality of life will benefit families, businesses, and future generations.
Learn more about the Parks & Trails Bond
Get out and Vote!
Conservation work can often be glacially slow, and tangible progress is often incremental and hard to see. But we will know by the end of Election Day whether valuable state trust lands in Arizona can be saved, whether there will be funds to preserve open lands in Garfield County, Colorado, and whether new and better parks and recreation areas will be built in Bozeman, Montana.
And you have the power to make it happen!
Please vote on Election Day to turn these golden opportunities into meaningful conservation results.