NORRISTOWN, PA – The Montgomery County Board of Commissioners has formally accepted a new county study, Return on Environment: The Economic Impact of Protected Open Space in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The study demonstrates how protected open space—public parks and trails, preserved farmland, and private conserved lands—results in millions of dollars in terms of savings, earnings, and avoided costs each year.
The report relied on various data to measure how protected open space throughout the county impacts home and property values, economic activity, environmental services, and direct use benefits relating to health and recreation. Key findings of the study include:
Home and Property Values
- $2.8B added to the value of housing stock located within a half mile of protected open space
- $11,300 average increase in the value of homes located within a half mile of protected open space
- $48M in annual additional property tax revenues generated from homes within a half mile of protected open space
- $160M annual economic impact associated with protected open space
- 1,555 jobs supported from open space-related upkeep, protected farmland, and open-space tourism
- $49M in annual salaries
- $31.6M in annual savings through the provision of six environmental services including air pollution removal, the provision of a water supply, water quality improvement, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat conservation, and carbon sequestration and storage.
- $97.4M in the lifetime cost savings of carbon storage in trees
- $10M in avoided annual stormwater system maintenance
- $180M in avoided annual stormwater pollutant removal costs
Direct Use Benefits
- $219M in annual recreation benefits to Montgomery County residents
- $225M in medical costs avoided annually
- $243M in lost productivity costs avoided annually
These impressive results will be used to advance open space preservation in the county. The goal of this study is to motivate county leaders, local decision makers, citizens, and stakeholders to take action that supports and advances open space conservation in all Montgomery County communities.
"Preserving open space has long been a priority of this administration," said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. "This study documents that public support of open space has tangible payoffs for Montgomery County residents – both for their own personal enjoyment as well as measurable economic benefits for their property values and our environment.”
The study was developed by the Montgomery County Planning Commission, working in partnership with the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), consultant Econsult Solutions, Inc., and a 32-member Advisory Committee. The study was funded jointly by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Montgomery County.
The 2022 study was initiated as a county-focused update to the 2011 Return on Environment, developed by Greenspace Alliance and DVRPC to assess the economic benefits of protected open space in Southeastern Pennsylvania (covering Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties). Given that this regional report was ten years old and the data used for the report was even older, Montgomery County endeavored to develop a study with updated data focused entirely on Montgomery County.
Return on Environment: The Economic Impact of Protected Open Space in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania is available for download at www.montcopa.org/ReturnOnEnvironment. For questions, contact William R. Hartman, MCPC Trails and Open Space Planning Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (610) 278-3746.
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