Sales tax renewals that EHL helped craft include hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire habitat lands as mitigation for transportation infrastructure. Land is already being protected.

A portion of the sales tax is used to fund transportation. When ballot measures in three counties came up to renew this funding, EHL helped craft precedent-setting provisions to benefit regional conservation plans. Each transportation measure was a mix of roads and transit, and contained no unacceptable projects.

In Riverside County, Measure A’s $153,000,000 habitat allocation has already been tapped to help fund acquisitions for the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Program. Acquisitions have occurred in historic San Timoteo Canyon  – site of a future state park east of the City of Riverside – and on the Santa Rosa Plateau near Temecula.

In San Diego, the TransNet measure will generate $850,000,000 for land acquisition and management. With extensive EHL involvement, agreement was reached on a formula that “front-loads” considerable disbursement over the first 10 years, to meet immediate needs. An agreement was also negotiated with state and federal wildlife agencies to guide project permitting. Dollars have already started to flow to reserve management and for acquisitions including coastal sage scrub south of Carlsbad, riparian habitat in Bonsall, and wetlands restoration along the San Luis Rey River.

In Orange County, EHL was appointed to the Measure M Environmental Oversight Committee, which will oversee expenditure of $240,000,000 in mitigation. Criteria for acquisition and restoration have been drafted, and monies may become available as soon as 2009.

These programs exemplify how ambitious open space programs can be integrated into traditional regional planning.