Photo by Theresa Thompson, Flickr.
This coming Tuesday, Nov. 2, voters will head to the polls with the chance to protect our shared public lands and natural resources through various ballot initiatives. Some of these measures, if passed, will not only protect our natural heritage but also support job creation and better public health. Other measures must be defeated because of the harm they will cause if enacted.
In California, for example, it is vital for voters to vote NO on proposition 23, the dirty energy proposition favored by Big Oil that would suspend California’s bipartisan energy and clean air legislation.
Four years ago, California enacted AB 32, a landmark climate change law that is helping to reduce California’s dependence on foreign oil and preventing pollution to its ecosystems and communities. California has taken the lead nationwide in holding polluters accountable, reducing harmful emissions, and promoting the development of renewable energy, which is creating thousands of new jobs.
But Proposition 23 is Big Oil’s attempt to kill California’s clean energy progress. The proposition would weaken California’s ability to compete globally in the growing clean energy sector. It also threatens the health of California’s people and natural resources.
Another bill in the Golden State, Proposition 21, would help keep the state’s 278 parks open, clean and safe.
Decades of underfunding have left California’s parks on the edge of closure. Twice in the past two years, all of its parks were nearly shuttered because of California’s budget crisis. And last year, almost 150 state parks were shut down part-time or had their service budgets severely slashed.
Prop. 21 will add an $18 vehicle license fee to create a new and stable source of funding for state parks and wildlife conservation. In exchange, this new fee gives free day-use admission to all state parks. We urge a Yes vote on Prop. 21 to protect habitats, beautiful natural scenery and outdoors recreation.
Then comes Arizona. In that state wildlands supporters would be wise to reject two dangerous land initiatives on the ballot by voting NO on proposition 109 and NO on proposition 301.
Proposition 109 would wrest wildlife protection decisions from wildlife professionals The proposition would make hunting and fishing the preferred method of managing wildlife. While hunting and fishing can be a part of a management prescription, they should not be the chief tools to achieve long term sustainability of natural and diverse wildlife populations .and place such decisions in the hands of politicians.
Voters should also say no to proposition 301, which would rob the voter-supported land conservation fund and transfer funds into the state’s General Fund. Arizona established the Land Conservation Fund in 1998 to help with the acquisition of state trust lands. The fund is a vital part of conserving Arizona’s natural resources, and raiding it would be harmful to the state’s natural splendor.
In Colorado, voters should reject three initiatives that would harm environmental programs.
Coloradans should vote NO on proposition 101, NO on amendment 60 and NO on amendment 61.
Proposition 101 would jeopardize state and local governments’ ability to provide basic public service and meet growing needs. With budget cuts looming for our community and transportation programs, funding for environmental programs will be at risk.
Amendment 60 would cut more than one billion dollars in local funding for schools and put additional strain on other essential state services. As a result, environmental programs could be cut or eliminated, with Coloradans facing higher water usage fees, outdated water treatment facilities, or even closure of public access to state wildlife lands.
Amendment 61 would prohibit all state borrowing, including for building public roads, universities, and hospitals, while undermining Colorado's past infrastructure investments. In addition, the state would no longer acquire interest from the loans that traditionally fund many of our environmental programs such as endangered species conservation and streamflow protections.
And as a final example of what’s at stake for wildlands this election, in Oregon, voters have the opportunity expand a great program that uses Lottery funds to help wildlands. We hope all Oregonians will vote YES on Measure 76 and continue protecting Oregon’s water, wildlife and parks for future generations.
For more than a decade, a portion of Oregon’s Lottery funds have helped protect the state’s clean water, provide good family-supporting jobs and make the state and local parks safer and more accessible. But the measure that created this program in 1998 is expiring.
Now it’s up to voters in Oregon to vote YES on Measure 76 to maintain the state’s only dedicated source of funding for the protection of its clean water, safe and accessible state and local parks, and wildlife habitat.
Measure 76 also strengthens Oregon’s economy by directly funding thousands of family-supporting jobs and providing grants to hundreds of entrepreneurial business across the state.
Of course these are just a few examples of some very critical questions that U.S. citizens will answer Nov. 2.
Many other state ballots will include issues that impact wildlands, so whether or not you live in one of the states above, you should still head to the polls this Tuesday and let your voice be heard.
photo: Photo by Theresa Thompson, Flickr.