At the polls in November, Colorado voters approved about $1 billion in local funding for the outdoors. These five approved measures are the result of collaborative responses to the expressed needs of communities, and two (in bold) were supported by the Gates Family Foundation via community-level work in their exploratory phase:
- Measure 2A in Denver – Healthy Parks and Rivers for Everyone, a 0.25% sales tax increase for parks, rivers and streams, trails and trees. This will generate $45 million or so a year with no sunset.
- Measure 1A in Chaffee County, the state’s first new county program since 2016, will generate through a 0.25% sales tax increase about $1 million per year for working farms and ranch conservation, recreation management and forest health projects.
- Measure 1A in Eagle County will extend an existing 1.5 mill property tax for an additional 15 years (now through 2040). This one passed by a very large margin, with 81.71% of voters supporting.
- Measure 1A in Park County will extend for 20 years an existing 1% sales tax for land and water conservation.
- Measure 2D in Lakewood will allow the city to keep TABOR refund money for specific purposes, including parks and open space.
As an example of leveraged investment, Gates’ grant toward community planning in Chaffee County was just over $62,000. From that initial effort, grew the campaign that successfully will now bring $1M every year for projects closely aligned with the Foundation’s Natural Resources program priorities. The Gates-funded outreach and engagement effort helped the community develop a common vision and shared goals prior to putting anything on the ballot. As a result, the county not only has sustainable local funding with which to pursue their objectives, but they also have built a foundation of trust and relationships across interests and throughout their communities.
Congratulations to the thousands of voters and community leaders who stood up for Colorado’s natural inheritance through these successful initiatives.