Thanks to our partners at Natural Lands for providing insightful content for this piece.
Pennsylvania voters faced two conservation-specific referendums in two distinct local elections (in Chester and Carbon Counties), and both measures were approved by the voters in those communities by substantial margins. These results certainly add credibility to the notion that Pennsylvania’s citizens are strongly in favor of conservation initiatives.
Westtown Township, Chester County
In Westtown Township, Chester County, a referendum asked voters if they support increases to both the earned income tax and real estate tax to raise the funds necessary to move forward with a conservation project that would preserve Crebilly Farm, a Revolutionary War era historic landmark property, and convert part of the acreage of the farm into a public park project.
Located in the middle of an area that is ripe for development (and high on the wish list of multiple developers), the Crebilly Farm project represents a public-private partnership initiative that is now officially empowered to move forward, thanks the voters of Westtown Township. In voting yes by a 2:1 measure, the township’s residents have approved a modest tax increase that empowers their municipality to devote project-specific funds towards starting this historically and naturally important conservation work. Additional funding and project assistance comes from local land trust partners Natural Lands. More details on this project, and the referendum, can be found here in a piece from The Philadelphia Inquirer (posted to Natural Lands’ website sans paywall).
Westtown Twp. referendum results:
Further north towards the Poconos, an astounding 82% of voters supported the Carbon County Water, Farms, and Land referendum, which will establish a conservation program to preserve open space, clean water, and wildlife habitat. It will allow the county to borrow up to $10 million over 20 years. Nation-wide, 30+ communities had the chance to vote on open space funding on this year’s ballot. Carbon County’s open space referendum appears to have passed by the largest margin in the United States. In a remarkable victory for conservation, Carbon County voters approved the measures by a greater than 4:1 margin.
Carbon County referendum results:
Thanks to the voters of Westtown Township and Carbon County for this stirring reminder that conservation work is about everyone, and for everyone–and that at its best, conservation work involves whole communities of partners.
Further information and other sources on these stories:
- Natural Lands: Is There Anything That Will Unite Democrats and Republicans?
- The Philadelphia Inquirer: Voters Approve Preservation of Crebilly Farm, One of Chesco’s Biggest Unprotected Properties Threatened by Development
- The Standard-Speaker: Voters Give Overwhelming Support to Referendum
- KVPI: Carbon County Votes Yes On Natural Resources Referendum