In November 2016, voters overwhelmingly approved a five-year renewal of Metro’s parks and natural areas levy, providing stable funding through 2023.
The renewal by 74 percent of voters provides a boost for Metro’s unique park system, one with nature at its heart. Thanks to more than two decades of voter investments, Metro manages 17,000 acres of parks, trails and natural areas across every community in the region.
Extending levy funding will allow Metro to continue to protect clean water, restore fish and wildlife habitat and provide opportunities for people to enjoy nature close to home.
Just like the original 2013 levy, about half of the money from the levy renewal will go toward restoring and maintaining natural areas to improve water quality and fish and wildlife habitat. About 20 to 30 percent will go toward regional parks operations. The rest will go toward improving parks and natural areas for people, grants for community nature projects, and nature education and volunteer programs.
Levy money will also be aimed at diversifying the contractors that Metro hires, as well as improving programs and facilities for underserved communities such as communities of color, low-income communities and young people.
The levy renewal is another chapter in the growth of the region’s parks and natural areas system, which started to take shape in 1992 with the Metropolitan Greenspaces Plan. The plan paved the way for the 1995 and 2006 natural areas bond measures, which allowed Metro to acquire some of the region’s rare and special habitat areas, provide money for capital grants and support local parks providers.
Money from the 2006 bond measure is winding down, though the renewal of the levy will buy Metro time to secure funding for the program’s long-term future.
Metro’s future work will be guided by the Parks and Nature System Plan, a long-term strategic plan to guide the future of the regional network that the Metro Council approved in February 2016.
The system plan lays out Metro’s mission and role, the state of the portfolio, trends that will shape this work, and a slate of strategies to guide the future. The plan also provides strategic direction in investing the money that voters have approved – a long-term commitment that now totals more than $480 million to date.
To see the impact of these investments and the opportunities ahead, listen to the stories from people on the ground. Learn more about how your tax dollars were spent from July 2016 to June 2017 to plant more than a million native trees and shrubs, provide opportunities for diverse communities to access nature, offer grants to support community nature projects – and much more.
Skip ahead to the end of the report to learn about the status of the 2006 bond measure, 2013 levy, and overall Parks and Nature spending in 2016-17