The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with North Olympic Land Trust and Jefferson Land Trust, has released a study highlighting the importance of conserved farms, forests, trails, and parks on the North Olympic Peninsula as key economic drivers that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits each year.
According to the study, available here, protected land makes essential contributions to the region’s economy in numerous measurable ways. For example, farmland conservation helps to keep working farms active, allowing the area to generate $29.4 million of farm products each year. This in turn provides healthy local food to the community, maintains large open spaces, and supports habitat for wildlife.
The release of this report is very timely. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused and allowed so many people to work remotely, which in turn has given folks the freedom to consider living anywhere with solid internet access,” said North Olympic Land Trust, Executive Director Tom Sanford. “The fresh air, scenic landscapes, delicious local food, and access to recreation on the Olympic Peninsula are no secret. Combine this high quality of life with a strong natural resilience to climate change, and you end up with a population that will likely grow rapidly in coming years. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to make thoughtful long-term decisions about how our landscape can continue to support our economy.”
The study finds that conserved farms and forests, trails, and parks on the North Olympic Peninsula:
- Support the forest economy that provides 1,440 jobs and $92.1 million in wages each year.
- Store $4.23 billion of carbon and remove $168 million of carbon from the atmosphere annually.
- Boost the region’s 1,450 farms that generate $29.4 million in farm products each year.
- Raise the value of nearby residential properties by $616 million and increase property tax revenues by $6.11 million annually.
- Absorb 1.2 billion cubic feet of water and filter 82,300 tonnes of pollutants, resulting in $1.09 million in stormwater management value each year.
- Lower air-quality related health care and pollution control costs by $25.8 million annually.
- Encourage $110 million in spending on recreation equipment at 80 outdoor recreation businesses in the region– which are supported by but not exclusive to conserved lands, trails, and parks, — and help provide industry specific jobs for 962 employees.
- Attract visitors who spend $306 million annually in the region’s economy.