Report: Open space makes cents

Members of the Pennsbury Land
Trust learned that open space preservation makes both dollars and sense. The
word came through a study performed for the GreenSpace Alliance and the
Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission.

Patty Elkis, of DVRPC, said the
200,000 acres of protected open space in the five-county Philadelphia region
has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic value every year.

It generates the money in four
different areas, she said. It increases property values, provides eco-system
services that would otherwise have to be paid for, provides health and
recreation benefits and generates economic activity.

Eco-system services, such as
storm water management, flood mitigation and wildlife habitat improve water
supply, aid waste assimilation and improve air quality, Elkis said.

Kristine Kern, from the GreenSpace
Alliance — a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving open space
throughout southeastern Pennsylvania — and an open space coordinator in Buck
County gave a few examples. One was that the homeowners with houses within a
quarter mile of the Peace Valley Park in Bucks County saw their property values
increase by $35,000.

There is also a health benefit
in living near protected open space, Kern said. The study showed that people
can save $400 per year by exercising at pubic parks.

People in the region save $800
million in associated healthcare costs by being healthier and save on worker’s
compensation costs.

The preserved acreage in the
five-county region also creates 7,000 jobs and generates $300 million in annual
earnings, according to the study.

Elkis and Kern gave the
presentation to the Land Trust on March 21, the final night of Karen Travers’
8-year term as Land Trust president. Holly Manzone, of Pocopson Township, will
be the new president.

Manzone was not at the meeting,
but Travers said the Land Trust continues to get new conservation easement donations.

“We’ve also tried to institute
a strong education program because, very often, people will donate conservation
easements, but they really don’t know how to manage their land,” said Travers.
“Wise use in the land is a very important thing.”

She said people need to learn
how to manage stream corridors and invasive plants, as well as learning how to
plant for beneficial wildlife.

Travers said she can see the
Land Trust continuing to grow the easements and getting more into community
involvement, such as the stream watch program that started last year. There is
also a tree-planting program.

She’d like to see the group be
even more aggressive in going after conservation easements with landowners who
had previously been reluctant.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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