The following article about the economic benefits of preserving open space was just published on the website for the New York League for Conservation Voters:
Report: Open Space Is Good For NY's Economy
The benefits outweigh the costs of preserving open space, according to a new report by state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
Take farmland, which occupies a quarter of the total acreage in New York. It generates about $4.5 billion annually, with an additional multiplier effect from interrelated industries of approximately $31 billion. Forestry, tourism and outdoor recreation also provide substantial economic activity, the report concludes.
DiNapoli also noted that open space often requires fewer municipal services than lands in other use and tend to generate more in municipal tax revenue. Open space helps control storm water runoff, preserves surface water quality and stream flows, and aids in the infiltration of surface water to replenish aquifers. When lands are converted to other uses, the natural benefits provided by open space often must be replaced through the construction of water-treatment facilities and infrastructure to control storm water, all paid for through local tax revenue. A series of studies have found the preservation of open space to be a more economical way to address storm water requirements.
The comptroller’s report recommends that New York State consider: allowing municipalities to establish community preservation funds; evaluating the adequacy of protections for lands providing benefits for municipalities; improving state-level planning for open space to address long-term funding needs; improving the administration of funds for open space programs; encouraging private land conservation.