The economics of preservation, pt. 2
Last year the Land Conservancy of Adams County worked with six local landowners to preserve 1,060 acres of Adams County land—seven parcels containing orchards, farm fields, forests, and lands bordering the Conewago and Marsh creeks. Each of these properties contributes to the economic vitality of our region, producing fruits and vegetables that are sold here and across the region, and bringing income to local farmers and the local economy. These properties also contribute to the aesthetic vitality of the county. Their rolling fields, woodlands, and streams greatly enhance the rural character that makes Adams County such an attractive place to live. These properties also contribute to the health of the county’s environment, not to mention its water supply, as each contains open spaces that buffer streams and provide for groundwater replenishment—especially important in a county whose entire drinking water supply comes from within the county borders.
But what’s often overlooked in reviewing our work in any year is that most of the properties preserved in any year include federal and/or state reimbursements to the landowner. In 2014 alone, nearly $1.3 million in federal and state grants passed through the Land Conservancy to reimburse Adams County landowners for the development rights they forfeited when they entered into conservation easements. Since 2003 we’ve brought more than $4.2 million in federal funding to the county for purchasing conservation easements. This is funding that otherwise would not have come into Adams County, boosting the local economy as landowners could use the funds to replace barn roofs, upgrade farming equipment, expand their farming operations, etc. What’s more, this is funding that comes into the county without incurring the costs that typically go along with developing land, such as infrastructure improvements, school construction, expanded municipal services, etc.
The Land Conservancy itself operates a very lean budget. In 2014 only five percent of our total revenue went to cover unfunded easement expenses and all other operating costs, while fully 91 percent went to local landowners. It’s for this reason that we depend so heavily on our members and other financial supporters to pursue our mission. Want to learn more? Read here.