Election day wins for Western public lands

Nov 9, 2023

In this year’s election, several Western states passed noteworthy public lands measures, primarily focusing on funding for local parks and trails. Voters in Phoenix overwhelmingly approved a $109 million bond for libraries, parks, and historic preservation. This bond will fund new facilities and various improvement projects across municipal parks and recreation sites. Similarly, voters in the city of Goodyear, Arizona approved a $17 million parks and recreation bond, which will be used to extend a pedestrian and bike trail system.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, 77 percent of voters approved nearly $35 million of bonds to public parks and facilities, bikeways, bosque areas, and trails. Of this funding, approximately $3.4 million is devoted to renovating leaky irrigation systems at city parks, promoting water conservation in the city. The remaining funds will be allocated towards the development and enhancement of park equipment, infrastructure, safety, and security, as well as public pool construction and improvement projects.

The most remarkable public lands outcome occurred in Texas, where 76 percent of voters approved Proposition 14, a constitutional amendment that establishes the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund. This fund supports the acquisition, development, and maintenance of state parks. Texas legislators previously passed a bill to create the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund, allocating $1 billion for the establishment of new state parks—the most substantial investment in Texas park history. By approving it as a constitutional amendment in Tuesday’s election, Texas voters secured long-term stability for this funding, which derives from a state government surplus. With less than five percent of Texas being public land, this investment in state parks is a crucial opportunity to improve outdoor access for millions of Texas residents.

Quick hits

Election day wins for Western public lands

Arizona Republic [Arizona] | KTAR News [Arizona] | KOAT [New Mexico] | New York Times [Texas] | KXAN [Texas]

The 20 farming families who use more water from the Colorado River than some Western states


Missouri Headwaters Conservation Area could provide an additional tool for private landowners

Mountain Journal

How is Colorado doing on cutting carbon emissions? Not great, state analysis says

Colorado Sun

Opinion: How a methane rule can protect Latinos impacted by climate harms

The Messenger

Has California addressed the failures that led to the deadly Camp Fire five years ago?

Los Angeles Times

Oil and gas industry joins fight against nuclear waste site proposed in southeast New Mexico

Carlsbad Current-Argus

National parks are free this Saturday in honor of Veterans Day

USA Today | Sierra Sun Times | The Hill | KOAA

Quote of the day

I know that will seem cynical, but we see this again and again for natural disasters. Unless the event is recent and in an area people identify with, the lessons learned are fairly quickly forgotten by those not directly involved.”

—Mike Robinson, director of the Center for Innovative Transportation Solutions at Old Dominion University, Los Angeles Times

Picture This

porcupine crossing road


Why did the porcupine cross the Teton Park Road? 🛣️

Because he knew it was closed to vehicles and open to walking, biking, and skating this time of year! 🚶‍♀️🚴🛹🦮

Where there’s a quill, there’s a way… (Careful of the barbs we’re throwing!)

If you see a porcupine on the road, remember to give it plenty of space – nicknames for porcupines include: quill pig, hurty squirrel, cactus rat, battle pig, capy-scare-uh, and revenge opossum. Those 30,000 quills will leave a mark!

❄️ While snow is still loading in the valley, enjoy this quiet time of year by walking, biking, skating, or taking your pet for a walk on the Teton Park Road in Grand Teton (porcupines do NOT make good pet, read those nicknames again). Pets must be on a leash, 6 ft. or less, and pet owners are required to pick up after their pets. The road will remain open to recreational activities until snow covered.

🏔️ Services are limited in the park this time of year. If planning to visit Grand Teton, remember to bring food, water, and extra layers of clothing. Check the weather and park conditions at go.nps.gov/tetonconditions and check current road status at go.nps.gov/tetonroads.


NPS Photo/C. Adams

Featured photo: Garner State Park, Texas. Texas Parks and Wildlife