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Conservation Through the Ballot Box

Using Local Referenda to Preserve Open Space
H. Spencer Banzhaf, Wallace E. Oates, and James Sanchirico, April 1, 2008

The conservation movement has used both private enterprises and public programs to preserve lands of ecological, aesthetic, and historical value. One notably successful effort has employed referenda for the conservation of open space. Between 1998 and 2006, some 1,550 referenda appeared on state, county, and municipal ballots across the United States, and their success rate was very high: nearly 80 percent of these measures passed, many by a wide margin.