Study Shows Environmental Protection Fund Builds New York’s Economy

February 9, 2012
Albany

New York’s Environmental Protection Fund supports industries that generate approximately $40 billion annually for the State’s economy and sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs, according to a new analysis released today. The report—prepared by The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation organization, in collaboration with the New York Environmental Leaders Group—shows that the output from the EPF also generates positive yearly economic returns for jobs, local economies, and property values. In addition, the analysis found that for every $1 invested to protect lands under EPF, $7 in economic benefits is returned to New York through natural goods and services, such as filtering air and water of pollutants, and flood control.

The EPF programs directly fund the protection of open space and farmland, recycling and solid waste management, and investments in local parks, recreation, and historic preservation. These EPF-supported activities support a broad spectrum of industries, including outdoor recreation, tourism, forest products, and agriculture as well as protecting the drinking water for millions of New Yorkers.

“As we conduct these studies around the nation, we are finding, time and time again, that investments in land conservation, urban development, and environmental infrastructure, yield returns that sustain and stimulate local and regional economies,” said Jessica Sargent-Michaud, economist for The Trust for Public Land and author of the report. “The findings for New York’s Environmental Protection Fund show that the stronger the EPF is, the more local economies benefit.”

The analysis also found yearly returns on EPF funding include:

  • The New York State Park System — which receives significant support from the EPF — generates $1.9 billion in visitor spending, five times more than management and operations costs.
  • EPF-supported industries sustain hundreds of thousands of jobs, including but not limited to:
    • Outdoor recreation activity: 130,000 jobs
    • Forest-related manufacturing and logging: 38,000 jobs
    • Farm operators and laborers: 117,000 jobs
    • Recycling: 32,000 jobs
  • EPF protected lands that support wildlife-associated recreation in New York attract millions of visitors annually who participate in fishing, hunting, or wildlife watching, which generates more than $3 billion in annual sales.

In 2010 and 2011, total EPF funding was held at $134 million, approximately 0.001 — or one-tenth of one percent — of total state spending. The proposed EPF budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year is $134 million.

EPF funds also stimulate urban development, leveraging private investments. For example, an EPF grant for the City of Oswego’s downtown revitalization contributed to a 50 percent decline in the city’s vacancy rate.

EPF funding for new and renovated parks can boost nearby property values. For example, the creation of the EPF-supported Hudson River Park in New York City has already added $200 million to nearby property values.

For the full report or a two-page summary, visit tpl.org/new-york

"It’s time we started looking at the EPF in a different way; not just as the state's premier tool to protect the environment, but also as a sound economic investment for a state that is still recovering from the worst recession in three generations,” said Carl Meyer, President and COO of The Solar Energy Consortium. “This report clearly demonstrates that the EPF is a job creator and revenue generator for New York. Enhanced investment in the EPF will only increase those benefits."

"The farmland protection and conservation programs that are supported by the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) are critically important to the fabric of our rural communities," said Julie Suarez, Director of Public Policy for New York Farm Bureau. Conserving farmland keeps it in agricultural production, encourages important on-farm investments, increases the supply of fresh locally grown food, and protects tens of thousands of jobs."

"A healthy environment supports visitation to New York's spectacular destinations. This report makes clear that investments from the state's Environmental Protection Fund have sustained tourism, and of course jobs, and we are grateful," said Joseph Bonura, Jr., partner Bonura Hospitality Group, Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel.

"Outdoor retailing and outfitting is a growing global industry but locally there is so much associated business activity from tourism. Anything that grows access to waterfronts along the Hudson, for example, is great for local economies, and the Environmental Protection Fund has clearly added great value to growing local economies," said Katy Bell, owner, Mountain Tops Outfitters, Beacon, NY.

The Trust for Public Land offers a Conservation Economics service to measure and analyze the economic benefits and fiscal impacts of land conservation. Studies conducted by TPL in New Jersey, Colorado, North Carolina, and elsewhere have shown that land conservation returns from $4 to $10 for every dollar invested through natural goods and services alone. Learn more.