Thursday, November 6, 2008

Let's run on Public Lands!

How often do you run on trails that are on public lands? For me, the answer is QUITE OFTEN. Here in the Missoula area we are blessed with numerous trail systems that let us run for miles through scenic grasslands and forests, uninterrupted by No Trespassing Signs-- the Rattlesnake, Blue Mountain, Pattee Canyon, the Frenchtown Bike Trail....

It's truly a gift to be able to run or hike or play on publicly owned lands and trails, but one that we often take for granted. These public lands, though, come at a cost. Everyone must share in the cost of purchasing and maintaining public lands or lands that allow, through conservation easements or other frameworks, public access.

In 2006, voters in Missoula County approved a $10 million bond to assist in the purchase or protection of Open Spaces that allow for resource protection and public access. The Montana Legacy Project will soon purchase 320,000 of private timber company lands in western Montana (for a mere $520 million) with the goals of protecting natural resources, maintaining public access, and sustaining a timber economy (as opposed to a trophy-home economy). And this week Lewis & Clark County (Helena area) also passed an Open Space bond.

Indeed, all across the nation folks decided this week that, even in the face of poor economic times, that having open space or public lands to play on, look at, and enjoy were worth a lot.

See the re-cap below from the Trust for Public Lands:

On Tuesday, November 4, voters across America backed 62 of 87
conservation finance measures, generating a single-day record of
$7.3 billion in new conservation funding. The results capped a
record-breaking year in which voters approved 88 measures,
totaling nearly $8.4 billion in new public funding for land
conservation. TPL, and its lobbying affiliate, the Conservation
Campaign (TCC), played integral roles in the success of many of
these ballot measures.

Among the other significant measures yesterday:
* East Bay Regional Park District, CA: a $500 million bond
measure received 71% support
* Hillsborough County, FL: a $200 million bond measure received
78% support
* Hunterdon County, NJ: An extension of the county's 3-cent
property tax for 20 years will generate $152 million
* Community Preservation Act, MA: 7 of 8 measures approved,
bringing the total of communities statewide that have adopted
CPA to 140
* Blaine County, ID: a two-year property tax for open space will
establish the first county conservation program in the state
* Johnson County, IA: a $20 million bond will establish Iowa's
first county conservation program

Complete details of this year's measures--and all conservation
finance measures since 1988--are in TPL's LandVote online
searchable database, a service of TPL's Center for Conservation

The Trust for Public Land conserves land for people to enjoy as
parks, gardens and other natural places, ensuring livable
communities for generations to come.
The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity
of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our
land-for-people mission. For more information please contact us
at (415) 495-4014 or on the web at

Now, go out and enjoy some public lands. And encourage your community to financially support the places you love!

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