Conservation through Clean Ohio Fund is a Good Investment

A new report concludes that every Clean Ohio Fund dollar invested in conservation in the state returns four dollars in natural goods and services. The report also details how the fund supports hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide. 

Created in 2000, The Clean Ohio Fund is the state’s primary funding source for open space conservation, farmland preservation, and trail creation. The Trust for Public Land’s research summarizes and quantifies the economic benefits to local Ohio communities of Clean Ohio Fund investments in conserving healthy lands and waters, and also in a healthy economy. Projects made possible by the Clean Ohio Fund annually support hundreds of thousands of jobs across Ohio. Additionally, for every $1 invested in the conservation of land, $4 is returned in natural goods and services, such as drinking water protection, flood control, and air pollution removal.

“The results of Clean Ohio Fund’s return on investment analysis are consistent with conservation funding programs across America, and as a relatively young program, Clean Ohio will strengthen its return over time,” said Jessica Sargent, The Trust for Public Land’s senior economist.

The Clean Ohio Fund generates jobs and grows local economies. From 2002 to 2012, the Clean Ohio Fund conserved 92,500 acres of open space and farmland, helping to create jobs and business and support the tourism and outdoor recreation and agriculture industries.

  • Tourism provides an annual economic impact of $40 billion and accounts for nearly 9 percent of all jobs in the state. These jobs represent wages of $10.5 billion annually.
  • Outdoor recreation in Ohio generates $17.4 billion in consumer spending, $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue, 196,000 jobs, and $5.1 billion in wages and salaries each year in the state.
  • In 2011, over 4.3 million people spent $3.59 billion hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, or some combination of the three. This spending creates tens of thousands of jobs. Sportfishing alone supports close to 20,000 jobs.
  • Agriculture is the state’s top industry contributing over $107 billion to the state’s economy and providing over one million jobs each year. One out of seven Ohioans are employed in the food and agriculture industry.

Recreational trails lead to economic benefits. Trails are unique and highly desired amenities that create jobs, raise property values, attract visitors who spend money locally, contribute to a high quality of life, and stimulate economic development. 

  • Trail investments are effective job generators. Every $1 million invested in off-street multi-use trails generates 9.6 jobs.
  • Property values near trails are higher because they are viewed as an amenity. Homes near the Little Miami Trail sell for $9,300 more than comparable properties ¼ mile further away from the trail.
  • Trails in just the Miami Valley attract one million visitors every year who spend a combined $16 million on related goods and services.

The report was prepared by The Trust for Public Land with support from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act (GLFWRA), Ohio Parks and Recreation Association, and The Nature Conservancy.

Founded in 1972, The Trust for Public Land is the leading nonprofit working to conserve land for people. Operating from more than 30 offices nationwide, The Trust for Public Land has protected more than three million acres from the inner city to the wilderness and helped generate more than $34 billion in public funds for conservation. Nearly ten million people live within a ten-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. Learn more at