December 13, 2012 - As the year winds down, we have much on our minds, but I’d like to pause and focus for a moment on a connection we all share, and that is to land. Conservation is one of the most important steps anyone can take to protect the environment, and its many benefits begin locally.
Land conservation keeps our local communities vibrant, and study after study has demonstrated that by protecting land and creating parks we enhance our economies. Here in the Hudson River Valley, look at all the tourist activity created by the Walkway over the Hudson.
Those tourists don’t just visit the Walkway over the Hudson alone; they go to nearby shops and restaurants as well, pumping new and vital dollars into local economies.
In the New Year, OSI and its partners at the Wallkill Valley Land Trust hope to see a similar effect when we reopen the restored historic Rosendale Trestle along the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County.
In addition to economic benefits, conserving land keeps our food sources close, saving energy and fuel. Farmland preservation promotes a connection to the land and an understanding of where our food comes from. To that end, OSI finalized the preservation of two farms in the Orange County town of Warwick this week.
It’s worth noting that working farms like these represent another way that conservation strengthens local economies, as food bought locally creates jobs and keeps money circulating in your communities.
Conservation also preserves clean water and air. Protected forestland refills underground aquifers, slows storm runoff, and sustains watershed stability and resilience.
In the Shawangunks, OSI has preserved more than 27,000 acres over the last four decades, and much of that land protects a globally unique ecosystem through which pristine mountain waters flow.
By encouraging more efficient development around existing infrastructure centers, conservation helps save the woods and waterfront lands that protect our rivers and streams and keep our air clean.
Finally, it’s been discussed on Your Environment before but bears repeating: conservation will be one of the keys as we proceed forward in a climate-changed world. Superstorms like Sandy and Irene are quite possibly here to stay, and it will become increasingly important that we protect the resilient landscapes that are at the heart of biodiverse, healthy ecosystems as we face a changing climate.
So, as we end one year and look forward to another, I encourage the listeners of Your Environment to think deeply about your connection to the land. It’s a common bond that is shared by us all. Happy holidays from everyone here at the Open Space Institute.