Study Details Economic Benefit Of Protecting Space In Beaufort County

January 22, 2018
BEAUFORT, SC

The Trust for Public Land will present a new report to Beaufort County Council at Monday's council meeting which shows the county's parks, trails and open spaces program generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year in economic benefits to county residents.

"The parks, trails and conserved open spaces of Beaufort County are key ingredients to the exceptional quality of life that residents here enjoy, and we now better understand their economic value to our county as well," said Barbara Holmes, Director of Land Protection for the Beaufort County Open Land Trust. "The study by The Trust for Public Land supports the premise that there is significant value in conservation\as the County considers how it wants to move forward and grow in the future."

To answer the question, "How much does Beaufort County receive from its parks, trails and conserved open spaces," The Trust for Public Land's Conservation Economics team identified nine ways these lands contribute to the local economy: enhancing property value, providing clean water, improving air quality, boosting tourism, enabling recreational use, increasing public health, propelling economic development, bolstering farming, and supporting military installations.

The study, The Economic Benefits of Parks, Trails, and Conserved Open Spaces in Beaufort County, South Carolina, showed these areas raise the value of nearby residential properties by $127 million and increase property tax revenues by $1.12 million a year. These areas also provide stormwater management services valued at $27.4 million annually and reduce air pollution control costs by $317,000 a year. Parks, trails and conserved open spaces also provides residents with an annual medical cost savings of $7.91 million and a $16.8 million benefit for access to recreational opportunities. Visitors to these amenities spend $116 million annually in the local economy and generate $3.46 million in local tax revenues.

Beaufort County's proactive Rural and Critical Land Preservation Program (RCLPP), begun in 1999, was created in response to potential development facing the county. Through RCLPP, the county has invested a total of $135 million, with four bond referenda supporting the program. As part of its analysis, The Trust for Public Land determined the economic benefits directly attributable to land protected through this program for several benefit categories. For example, parks, trails and conserved open spaces purchased through the RCLPP raise the value of nearby residential properties by $22.5 million and increase property tax revenues by $174,000 a year. Stormwater management services valued at $8.1 million annually and air pollution reduction costs of $72,900 per year are attributable to RCLPP lands.

"The Trust for Public Land has measured the economic benefits of parks, trails, and open space systems across the country from Long Island, New York to Pinal County, Arizona," said Jessica Sargent, Conservation Economics Director for The Trust for Public Land. "We believe that the numbers we generated for Beaufort County are consistent with previous research and clearly demonstrate the importance of conservation to the local economy."

The report as well as a two-page executive summary can be downloaded at www.tpl.org/beaufort-county-economic-benefits.

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.