CONSERVED LAND ON NORTH OLYMPIC PENINSULA GENERATES HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS IN ECONOMIC BENEFITS

January 12, 2021

The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with North Olympic Land Trust and Jefferson Land Trust, today released a study highlighting the importance of conserved farms, forests, trails, and parks on the North Olympic Peninsula as key economic drivers that generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits each year.  

“Conservation on the North Olympic Peninsula helps communities meet a triple bottom line by generating money for local businesses through tourism, improving the natural environment, and preserving farming and forestry jobs,” said David Patton, Northwest Regional Director for the Trust for Public Land. “This new data quantifies what many of us already knew to be true: the region’s conserved and public lands are what makes the North Olympic Peninsula a great place to live and work.” 

According to the study, available here, protected land makes essential contributions to the region’s economy in numerous measurable ways. For example, farmland conservation helps to keep working farms active, allowing the area to generate $29.4 million of farm products each year. This in turn provides healthy local food to the community, maintains large open spaces, and supports habitat for wildlife.

“Preservation efforts regarding farmland has led to the resurgence of the agricultural economies of Chimacum, Quilcene and the Dungeness contributing to the economic growth of the North Olympic peninsula,” said Richard Tucker, Executive Director of the Jefferson Land Trust. “New farmers, increasing diversity of produce and meat, as well as increasing value added products are revitalizing this historically important sector. Vibrant farmers’ markets, farmstands and other outlets for residents to enjoy locally produced food enhance quality of life. New markets off the peninsula contribute to farm viability. Because of this, currently, the number of potential farmers exceeds supply of available farmland.”

Additionally, recreational amenities like the Olympic Discovery Trail bring a tourist economy to the community, encourage locals to stay active outdoors, and provide valuable wildlife habitat.  

 

According to Sam Chandler, the co-owner of Ben’s Bikes in Sequim, “Ben’s Bikes would not have been located in Sequim if it had not been for the Olympic Discovery Trail. We see very significant business because of the trail, including 40 to 50 bike rentals per day during the summer. All these people are tourists, staying in local places. And the trail is also used for year round commuting from Sequim to Port Angeles. There’s a significant portion of the population that doesn’t have a car, but the trail is also used by walkers, dog walkers, and horseback riders—successfully with minimal conflict. It’s a tremendous asset and will be even more so when it is fully completed.”

“The Trust for Public Land has measured the economic benefits of conserved lands, trails, and parks in dozens of communities across the country,” said Jennifer Plowden, Senior Conservation Economist at The Trust for Public Land and the report’s lead author. “The results show that these special places are not just nice-to-have amenities, but in fact are critical resources that safeguard the economic health of the communities on the Peninsula.”

 

The study finds that conserved farms and forests, trails, and parks on the North Olympic Peninsula:

 

  • Support the forest economy that provides 1,440 jobs and $92.1 million in wages each year.

  • Store $4.23 billion of carbon and remove $168 million of carbon from the atmosphere annually.

  • Boost the region’s 1,450 farms that generate $29.4 million in farm products each year.

  • Raise the value of nearby residential properties by $616 million and increase property tax revenues by $6.11 million annually.

  • Absorb 1.2 billion cubic feet of water and filter 82,300 tonnes of pollutants, resulting in $1.09 million in stormwater management value each year.  

  • Lower air-quality related health care and pollution control costs by $25.8 million annually.

  • Encourage $110 million in spending on recreation equipment at 80 outdoor recreation businesses  in the region-- which are supported by but not exclusive to conserved lands, trails, and parks, -- and help provide industry specific jobs for 962 employees.

  • Attract visitors who spend $306 million annually in the region’s economy.

The release of this report is very timely. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused and allowed so many people to work remotely, which in turn has given folks the freedom to consider living anywhere with solid internet access,” said North Olympic Land Trust, Executive Director Tom Sanford.  “The fresh air, scenic landscapes, delicious local food, and access to recreation on the Olympic Peninsula are no secret. Combine this high quality of life with a strong natural resilience to climate change, and you end up with a population that will likely grow rapidly in coming years. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to make thoughtful long-term decisions about how our landscape can continue to support our economy."

 

The Trust for Public Land has a long history of protecting some of the North Olympic Peninsula’s most special places and has protected 40,000 acres in the region, including current work with Jefferson Land Trust at Chimacum Ridge. This 850+-acre forested ridge rises between Center and Beaver Valleys, right in the heart of Chimacum. It is perfectly located to be a hub for public trails, outdoor education, and sustainably-run forest businesses that allow a healthy forest to grow, supporting local wildlife and keeping water clean in the Chimacum Creek aquifer below. Jefferson Land Trust and over a dozen project partners, including the Trust for Public Land, are actively working toward the vision of establishing a locally-managed community forest at Chimacum Ridge. As a community forest, the land will be managed for multiple community benefits. Selective ecological timber harvest will bring in revenue, protect water quality, wildlife habitat and the environment. This land will provide business opportunities, outdoor classrooms for local school groups, and recreational access and trail connectivity to the community below.

 

 

 

The report as well as an infographic summary can be downloaded at www.tpl.org/economic-benefits-north-olympic-peninsula

 

 

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About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live near a Trust for Public Land park, garden, or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

 

About Jefferson Land Trust

 

Jefferson Land Trust is a local, nonprofit land conservation organization dedicated to preserving the rural character and iconic landscapes of Jefferson County. In partnership with the community, the Land Trust has helped to protect more than 17,100 acres of our area’s most important places.

 

About North Olympic Land Trust

North Olympic Land Trust’s mission is to conserve lands that sustain the communities of Clallam County. We are dedicated to the conservation of open spaces, local food, local resources, healthy watersheds and recreational opportunities. Within the past 30 years, the Land Trust has permanently protected over 90 working and wild properties. We know that by conserving land for farms, fish, and forests, it will pay direct dividends back to our own quality of life. To learn more about North Olympic Land Trust, please visit www.northolympiclandtrust.org