Protected open spaces like parks and trails provide lots of value. They give us places to walk and enjoy the outdoors. They create homes for wildlife. They make communities more attractive places to live.
They also have direct, substantial economic value. Those benefits come in many forms, from product revenue to avoided costs.
What are those benefits? Just how much is protected open space worth, in economic terms?
Montgomery County recently measured it, with a countywide Return on Environment report.
The report studied property values, jobs, environmental services, and recreation benefits that come from protected open spaces in Montgomery County.
The results are impressive. The report found that protected open space in the county provides over $400 million every year in services to the county, including:
- $48 million in additional property tax revenue due to higher home values near protected land
- $160 million in direct economic impact through tourism spending and goods produced on protected land
- $31 million through environmental services like natural water filtration
- $219 million in annual outdoor recreation benefits
DCNR helped fund the study with a grant to the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission. Funding came from the Environmental Stewardship Fund.
The agency has supported several other county Return on Environment studies, many of them through grants to the Kittatinny Ridge Conservation Landscape.