Voters Overwhelmingly Reject Sweep of Land Conservation Fund
Prop 301 Defeated 74-26, Reaffirming Open Space Support
Phoenix, AZ – On Election Day, Arizona voters again demonstrated their strong support for land conservation by overwhelming rejecting Proposition 301, a measure that would have allowed the legislature to raid the Land Conservation Fund and sweep it into the General Fund, where the Arizona Legislature would have determined how it would be used.
“This is a great victory for land conservation and all of us who enjoy the amazing places that are protected with these funds,” said Carolyn Campbell, chair of the No on Prop 301 campaign and director of the Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection. “Defeat of Prop 301 also ensures that the land conservation dollars will continue to benefit our local communities as well as the education trust.”
The Land Conservation Fund was established by the voters in 1998 when we approved the Growing Smarter Act. The dollars in this fund provide a match for communities to acquire state trust lands for conservation, including critical lands in Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan – Tumamoc Hill was acquired using these dollars – as well as lands in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Rogers Lake in Flagstaff, and more.
“Legislators frequently think they know better than the voters and therefore should be able to defund, eviscerate, or otherwise dismantle voter-approved measures, including those for conservation,” said Sandy Bahr, the campaign treasurer and director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Arizona voters did not buy into the false choice presented by the Arizona Legislature and demonstrated strongly they meant what they said when they voted to establish the Land Conservation Fund."
Both Campbell and Bahr emphasized the need to adopt State Trust Land Reform as soon as possible. “The voters have protected the funding; now we need to address the obstacles to conserving state lands in a more comprehensive manner,” said Campbell. “We are refocusing our efforts on that now.”
The Land Conservation Fund sunsets at the end of this fiscal year, but the remaining dollars in the fund are available for communities that provide a match to conserve land.