Backlash Continues For Conservation Groups After Measure 5 Defeat


One of the most bruising debates during last year’s election season was the debate over Measure 5. It was put on the ballot by a coalition of deep-pocketed conservation activist groups, led by Ducks Unlimited, and would have created an enormous constitutional slush fund from state oil tax revenue streams from which the aforementioned conservation groups could get grants.

The debate got incredibly ugly (at one point backers of the measure were calling me a sexist with their official Twitter account) as the conservation interests came to realize that they spent millions to get barely 20 percent of the vote.

After the election I wrote that the groups backing Measure 5 “may well have set back the cause of conservation in the state for at least a decade.”¬†We saw some evidence of that from the Legislature today.

The Senate passed, with a landslide 43-3 vote, HB1197 which prohibits tax dollars going to any nonprofit group for the purposes of owning land or obtaining easements on land.

In introducing the legislation to the floor the bill carrier specifically mentioned that the legislation was about “carrying out the wishes” of voters who defeated Measure 5.

Nobody rose to speak against the bill. There was no opposition to the bill in committee. Only three of the most left-wing Senators in the chamber – Tim Mathern, Phil Murphy, and Connie Triplett – voted against it.

In 2013 I suspect legislation like this would have been the topic of much debate, but in 2015 after the conservation movement (which is really just another term for environmental activism these days) spent all their political capital on a disaster of a measure campaign there wasn’t any political capital left to spend on opposing something like this.