Study finds that land conservation drives economy

Leader news staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 1/25/21

Forest, farm, trail and parkland conservation — in addition to securing lands in perpetuity — is a driving force behind hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits each year on the …

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Study finds that land conservation drives economy

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Forest, farm, trail and parkland conservation — in addition to securing lands in perpetuity — is a driving force behind hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits each year on the North Olympic Peninsula, according to a new study.

The analysis, conducted by the North Olympic Land Trust and Jefferson Land Trust, reports that land conservation contributes to regional economies in the form of jobs, carbon removal, property values, outdoor recreation and visitors.

The contributions carry some serious dollar value; $33.1 million spent by locals annually on sports, recreation and exercise equipment; $306 million in annual tourism-based spending; reduced pollution control costs to the tune of $25.8 million; as well as a combined $616 million property value.

“Conservation on the North Olympic Peninsula helps communities meet a triple bottom line by generating money for local businesses through tourism, improving the natural environment, and preserving farming and forestry jobs,” said David Patton, northwest regional director for the Trust for Public Land.

“This new data quantifies what many of us already knew to be true: The region’s conserved and public lands are what makes the North Olympic Peninsula a great place to live and work,” he said.

Other recreational opportunities like the Olympic Discovery Trail draw in a significant tourist economy to the region. Sam Chandler, co-owner of Ben’s Bikes in Sequim, said his business would not be located in the area were it not for the proximity of the trail.

“We see very significant business because of the trail,” Chandler said, “including 40 to 50 bike rentals per day during the summer. All these people are tourists, staying in local places. And the trail is also used for year round commuting from Sequim to Port Angeles.”

There’s no arguing with the numbers, said Jennifer Plowden, senior conservation economist at the Trust for Public Land and the report’s lead author.

“The Trust for Public Land has measured the economic benefits of conserved lands, trails, and parks in dozens of communities across the country,” Plowden said. “The results show that these special places are not just nice-to-have amenities, but in fact are critical resources that safeguard the economic health of the communities on the Peninsula.”

To review the study, visit www.northolympiclandtrust.org.

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