Protected open spaces provide substantial economic, environmental, and health benefits to surrounding communities, but these benefits are often overlooked or undervalued in policy debates and investment decisions. A better understanding of these benefits can demonstrate how protected open space contributes to economic development and fiscal stability and can reverse the common misconception that conserved undeveloped land is non-productive and non-revenue producing.
Chester County's open space preservation program began in the 1980s amidst a growing public concern that the county's vistas and landscapes were disappearing in a tide of suburban sprawl. Chester County voters overwhelmingly passed a $50 million bond referendum in 1989 for open space preservation, and funding has continued ever since. As of the end of 2018, over 28% of Chester County's land is preserved- a testament to the coordinated effort by County leadership, municipalities, nonprofit partners and supportive citizens.
Willistown Conservation Trust was proud to partner with Chester County and other major land conservancies active in Chester County, as well as the Chester County Economic Development Council and Chester County Association of Township Officials to produce a report that estimates the economic impact of the County's robust open space preservation initiative.
Our own Rushton Farm and Rushton Woods Preserve are the subject of one of the case studies featured in the report. Please take a moment to review the full report, which clearly shows the significant and positive effects of open space.
Here are some articles in local press covering the Return on Environment study: