Why landtrust presentation_2012_revised_wvu_students_5-25-2012

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  • Thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to talk to you about the West Virginia Land Trust. My hope is to open your eyes to land conservation and the possibilities it offers to you, your family and your community.The most important things I would you to you walk away with after this presentation are: I want you to have the “ah- hah” moment and understand WHY conservation is important. We talk a lot about “benefits” of conservation, “how” conservation can be used but what I want do is make everyone understand “WHY” this is important. And secondly, I want you in the future to “consider conservation”. Consider it when you are making community decisions, family decisions and business decisions. I will be the first to admit that conservation is not for everybody. Conservation is not always the right fit. But, there are times when conservation is the PERFECT fit or solution. So after today, I hope that conservation is factored into future plans, discussions and decisions you make. Just consider it….
  • Well, before we start talking about the mechanics of conservation and community planning I want you all to understand what I am talking about when I use the phrase “special places”. So lets take a moment and reminisce. I want each of you to take a moment and think about your special place…..
  • It could be a stretch of woods where you walked miles with your dad. By watching him hunt, you learned how to respect nature and gained a deeper understanding of your family legacy…..
  • It could be a creek bed where you swam, fished or searched for the biggest crawdad you could find…..
  • Or perhaps your special place was on a farm harvesting food and growing a foundation for hard work, dedication and sacrifice….. We West Virginians have many special places. Not all of them are visited by thousands of tourists or featured in magazines. Our lands our special because of the memories they hold and the future they promise. They are worth protecting and sharing with future generations.
  • The West Virginia Land Trust is here to help make sure that every land owner has the opportunity to protect their own unique piece of our beloved mountain state. Working in partnership with land owners and communities…we protect our state one special place at a time. This work allows future generations the chance to experience the same wonder, adventure and beauty that generations before have enjoyed.
  • Founded in 1995, the West Virginia Land Trust (Land Trust) is the only statewide nonprofit 501 (C) 3 land trust dedicated to protecting West Virginia’s natural lands and scenic areas forever. The Land Trust’s mission is to protect land with significant conservation values through the use of conservation easements and real estate acquisitions, and by working with a statewide network of partners to build a passionate land conservation movement in the state. We promote a non-confrontational, cooperative approach to land conservation. We believe our long-term objectives can best be reached by building relationships and consensus across diverse communities. By educating people about the conservation tools available for their use and empowering them to make appropriate decisions regarding community planning, we work in collaboration to fulfill West Virginia’s conservation needs.
  • So…. WHY is land conservation important to YOU? Well for one, our state heritage is becoming increasingly threatened. Every day in our country, an area of land roughly the size of 4,000 football fields is carved up for new shopping malls, subdivisions, highways and parking lots. Poorly planned development is paving over our cherished lands, contaminating our air and water, and taking away the fields that provide our local fresh food supplies. Yet every day, land trusts and conservation organizations like ours and supporters like you, are working to help reverse this trend.
  • Conservation easements preserve our rapidly vanishing countryside, wetlands, farms and forests. Unlike some organizations which specialize in specific conservation values, our mission is to conserve special places that gives our state its distinctive character. That means that we may consider scenic, wildlife, botanical, recreational, or historic conservation values when evaluating a project. The Land Trust works with property owners to determine the best conservation approach for each. While our preferred approach is through the donation of conservation easements, there are other options we may consider, including the purchase of easements, or the outright purchase of property. 
  • Size: The Land Trust typically selects projects that are 50 acres or larger. In certain situations, small projects can have significance. The Land Trust staff and board will work to determine value of small projects, and to accept, decline, or assist in alternative partnerships.
  • Location: the Land Trust prefers to increase the total protected areas in WV by focusing on protecting land that adjoins protected space (e.g., federal, state, local forest/park or trail or is protected by a conservation organization).
  • Environmental Features: including, but not limited to:Ecologically important water frontage on a body of water such as a lake, river or stream.Wetlands or floodplain or other lands important to water quality.Habitat for, and/or has an occurrence of rare, threatened, or endangered species.Important wildlife habitat or corridor, as identified by wildlife experts.Exemplary natural ecosystem such as old forest growth or shale barren.Contains prime/unique agricultural soils and is in active agricultural production.Contains mature forest with a variety of species sufficient to support a productive forest.
  • Use: the Land Trust finds value in preserving lands that serve a purpose or have a use that is consistent with local, state, or federal plans (e.g., conservation programs, master plans, farmland protection plans, a designated scenic highway, or a watershed protection program).
  • Other Features: including, but not limited to:Access to significant public recreational opportunities.Opportunities for outdoor education or scientific research and offers public access to scenic view.Scenic view from a public road, trail, river, or lake.
  • The Land Trust’s Watershed Restoration Project will focus on educating people about the options and benefits of land conservation, transforming entire communities by incorporating conservation into community planning efforts, and ultimately protecting significant amounts of land in the affected areas forever.  This initiative has been made possible by settlement funds that have been directed by Appalachian Mountain Advocates to the West Virginia Land Trust for various violations of the federal Clean Water Act by coal mining activities in the affected watersheds. The Land Trust will forge significant partnerships with organizations and governmental agencies to leverage their knowledge and creativity to implement the Watershed Restoration Project.
  • Communities that conserve land are making a wise investment. In addition to all the intangible benefits land conservation can bring to our families and society as a whole, clear evidence from numerous studies demonstrates that protecting open space—including parks, privately owned natural lands, farms, and land protected by conservation easements—can generate real economic benefits and improve the local tax base. In particular, land conservation helps communities protect the bottom line in five key ways: 1. Reducing the tax burden on residents 2. Improving property values 3. Attracting business investment 4. Reducing spending on infrastructure 5. Promoting healthy lifestyles and public health
  • New residential development helps communities in a number of positive ways, but studies consistently show that more balanced residential development—development that includes the preservation of open space—helps reduce a community’s overall tax burden. On average, communities with more open space have lower taxes than communities with more residential development and less open space.Numerous studies conclude that converting open space to residential development almost always costs more in funding new required services than the community can expect to realize in taxes and other benefits from the development. The result is that there is often a tax loss for communities.For example, a recent American Farmland Trust study found that the median cost to provide public services for different land uses was $1.16 per tax dollar raised for residential land uses—a 16-cent deficit—compared to a 35-cent per tax dollar for open space—a 65-cent surplus.
  • According to numerous studies, over the past two decades, open space also improves the local tax base by enhancing community property values, which leads to increased tax revenue. Economists call this the “proximate principle”—property values near open space (and thus taxes paid on those properties) are generally higher than property values located further away from open space. The following are a few examples in the research literature: Southeastern Pennsylvania: A study concluded that open space in a five-county region increased the value of the region’s housing stock by $16.3 billion and generated $240 million annually in property tax revenues.6 Suburban Dallas, Texas: A study found that homes facing parks were worth 22 percent more than homes located a half-mile away from parks.National Homebuyer Survey: A survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 50 percent of homebuyers would be willing to pay more than 10 percent for a house near a park or protected open space.
  • Open space further helps to increase the local tax base and reduce the relative tax burden on residents in communities by attracting new business investment. Researcher Richard Florida, in several high-profile books, has shown how business leaders today recognize that a good environment is a critical factor in where their companies decide to locate and in their ability to attract top workers.Numerous studies show that open space contributes to a community’s quality of life and the amenities the community offers, which attracts businesses and workers to locate in those areas. As the economist John Crompton concluded, “The importance of quality of life in business location decisions has been repeatedly verified in the literature . . . . No matter how quality of life is defined, park and recreational opportunities are likely to be a major component of it.”
  • Open space can perform critical services that help communities economically in a variety of ways, such as serving as the first line of defense against a hurricane’s storm surge. It is often more cost-effective for a community to maintain open space— which can control flooding, filter water runoff, or help to mitigate air pollution—than to invest tax dollars in expensive infrastructure projects to achieve the same function.For example, one study found that by helping to capture precipitation, open space can potentially reduce the cost of managing storm water and the cost of drinking water up to ten-fold. Moreover, according to the Economy League of Greater Philadelphia, “If the open space in southeastern Pennsylvania were to be developed, the region would need to spend more than $132.5 million per year to cover the costs of environmental services provided by the open space.”
  • Open space promotes healthy lifestyles and public recreation, which can reduce the obesity epidemic and the rising cost of health care. Today, more than two-thirds of American adults and almost one-third of American children are overweight or obese.Ready access to open space is a key tool in the fight against obesity, as “living close to parks and other recreation facilities is . . . consistently related to higher physical activity levels for both adults and youth.”Ultimately, opportunities for healthy lifestyles through accessible open space can provide greater economic savings to individuals and their communities.

Transcript

  • 1. Conservation and Community Development Goes Hand in Hand Land Conservation helps communities protect the bottom line in five key ways: 1. Reducing the tax burden on residents 2. Improving property values 3. Attracting business investment 4. Reducing spending on infrastructure 5. Promoting healthy lifestyles and public health Source: Land Trust Alliance Fact Sheet “Economic and Tax-Base Benefit of Land Conservation”
  • 2. Open Space Reduces the Tax Burden on Residents Studies consistently show that more BALANCED residential development--- development that includes the preservation of open space--- helps reduce a community’s overall tax burden. Converting open space to residential development almost always costs more in funding new required services than the community can expect to realize in taxes and other benefits from the development. The result is more often a tax loss for communities. Source: Land Trust Alliance Fact Sheet “Economic and Tax-Base Benefit of Land Conservation”
  • 3. Open Space Improves Property Values • Open space also improves the local tax base by enhancing community property values, which leads to increased tax revenue. • Property values near open space (and thus taxes paid on those properties) are generally higher than property values located further away from open space. • A survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 50 percent of homebuyers would be willing to pay more than 10 percent for a house near a park or protected open space.
  • 4. Open Space Attracts Business Investment • Open space further helps to increase the local tax base and reduce the relative tax burden on residents in communities by attracting new business development. • Business leaders today recognize that a good environment is a critical factor in where their companies decide to locate and their ability to attract top works. • No matter how quality of life is defined, park and recreational opportunities are likely to be a major component of it.
  • 5. Open Space Reduces Spending onInfrastructure • It is often more cost-effective for a community to maintain open space— which can control flooding, filter water runoff, or help to mitigate air pollution— than to invest tax dollars in expensive infrastructure projects to achieve the same function. • By helping to capture precipitation, open space can potentially reduce the cost of managing storm water and the cost of drinking water up to ten-fold.
  • 6. Open Space Promotes Healthy Lifestyles andPublic Health• Open space promotes healthy lifestyles and public recreation, which can reduce the obesity epidemic and the rising cost of health care.• Ready access to open space is a key tool in the fight against obesity!• Ultimately, opportunities for healthy lifestyles through accessible open space can provide greater economic savings to individuals and their communities.