Every dollar that Vermont spends on conservation land generates a $9 return — that's the finding of a study out Wednesday from a group of conservation-related nonprofits in the state.
The study takes into account the economic benefits of industries like tourism, agriculture and forestry, as well as other factors like water quality, flood control and public health.
“I think that this report … is a proof point that the infrastructure of natural lands makes a quantifiable economic return and can guide decision-making in the future,” said Shelby Semmes, the Trust for Public Land's state program director for Vermont and New Hampshire.
VPR’s Henry Epp spoke to Shelby Semmes of the Trust for Public Land. Listen to their conversation above.
Semmes said one of the economic benefits of conserved land is the tourism it draws to Vermont. However, she said some natural areas in the state are dealing with problems of overuse: "We need to, in many ways, kind of get folks off of Camel’s Hump and get them into their town forest."
Semmes said while state funding for conservation land has remained relatively stable, forest loss and fragmentation is increasing in Vermont.
She also said her organization plans to meet with lawmakers this fall, as they aim to keep state dollars flowing toward investments in conservation land.