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Excerpt from:
The Florida Preservation 2000 Program Remaining Needs
and Priorities Study

Published: October 1, 1997

Conservation and recreation lands purchased under the state’s acquisition programs funded by P2000 contribute to significant economic benefits to Florida. These benefits can be divided into three types: (1) direct benefits resulting from job creation, spending and sales tax collections; (2) offset benefits derived both from savings created by not having to pay for infrastructure associated with development and increased property values (and property taxes) in the vicinity of conservation lands; and (3) economic benefits of ecosystem services provided by natural lands.

Direct economic benefits of conservation and recreation lands are substantial. Recent reports generated by the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) Division of Recreation and Parks, and the Office of Greenways and Trails; the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ (DACS) Division of Forestry; and the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission show major economic impacts.

DEP’s Recreation and Parks/Greenways & Trails:
The economic assessment of the Florida State Park System for 1995/96 concluded that the system directly contributed $201 million to local economies throughout the state. Direct economic impact is defined as the amount of new dollars spent in the local economy by non-local park visitors and by park operations. Approximately $14 million was contributed to the general revenue fund in the form of state sales taxes. In addition, over 6,000 jobs were generated as a result of the state parks’ operations. For every 1,000 persons attending a state park, the total direct impact on the local community is about $14,000. Similarly an Office of Greenways and Trails study for 1995/96 showed that three trails (Pinellas, Withlacoochee, & St. Marks) generated $17.9 million in visitor expenditures, contributed over $1.33 million in sales tax revenues and created 570 new jobs. Also of note, after the Pinellas Trail was constructed, Dunedin’s downtown business district increased its occupancy rate from 50 percent to 100 percent.

DACS Division of Forestry:
The State Forest System has a total annual economic impact exceeding $74.6 million. This estimate consists of a direct economic impact (new dollars spent in a local economy by visitors and by the state forest service) of more than $12.5 million. The value-added impact of timber harvests (from stumpage value to final user) adds more than $62.1 million that are generated on state forest lands (15 percent) with local school boards and in some cases county governments. Since the beginning of the P2000 program, the Division of Forestry has provided $4.5 million to local governments. Similarly, the Conservation and Recreation Lands and Save Our Rivers programs make payments in lieu of taxes to local governments. Thus far, the CARL Program has provided more than $715,000 to six local governments.

Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission:
Freshwater fishing, hunting and wildlife viewing generate economic benefits of $1.5 million, $804 million and $3.9 million, respectively, for a total economic benefit to Florida of $6.2 billion. In addition, recreation related to the Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission produces $339 million annually in sales tax revenues and provides employment for 60,000 people.

Recreational Activities:
Recreational activities in Florida also generate direct economic benefits from conservation lands. Saltwater recreational fisheries, which depend on clean water and undisturbed estuarine and coastal systems, are responsible for annual expenditures of $1.3 billion in Florida. This spending supports over 23,500 retail and service jobs and $235 million in wages. Beach tourists in Florida spend $7.9 billion annually, with a ripple effect through the economy of $15.4 billion and creation of 359,450 jobs. It is estimated that Americans spend $23.3 billion annually on bird and wildlife watching. In 1994, Florida’s birdwatchers accounted for $477 million in retail sales with 13,880 jobs related to birdwatching and an $897 million economic impact. The 70 canoe liveries in Florida generate $38.5 million annually, while canoeists spent $5 for every $1 paid to canoeing outfitters. Additionally, the Travel Industry Association of America reports that 45 percent of American adults planning a vacation in 1996 said they planned to visit a historical or cultural site. The reports for Florida indicate that 70 percent of travelers visited historical or cultural sites.


Preserving land has a net economic benefit to local governments. The public costs resulting from construction of a single-family home for eight infrastructure categories (educational facilities, sanitary sewer service, stormwater treatment, transportation, water, fire protection emergency medical, providing park-land, and providing recreation facilities) for each person moving to a previously undeveloped area are between $4,400 (Ocala) and $8,100 (Naples) in public expenditures subsidized by taxes paid by existing residents. Assuming 3.1 occupants per single-family residence, each new home costs the public in Florida between $13,640 and $25,110 in publicly-subsidized infrastructure costs. These values increase as one moves farther away from urban service centers. When lands are set aside for conservation, the public does not pay for the infrastructure needed to develop these lands.

Conservation lands in coastal areas also prevent development from occurring in coastal high hazard areas, saving many millions of dollars in property loss from hurricanes if the property is developed. The many billions of dollars of property damage resulting from two recent hurricanes, Andrew and Opal, illustrate the tremendous potential for savings (by conserving land) along the coast.

Evidence from other states indicates that property values tend to increase in the vicinity of large tracts of conservation lands. A 1978 Greenbelt Study in Colorado found that housing prices decreased an average of $4.20 for each foot of distance from a greenbelt. Examples from Florida include escalating property values in south Walton County near the Topsail Hill and Point Washington acquisitions and in Brevard County near the Archie Carr National Sea Turtle Refuge. Marketing brochures for developments near conservation lands often refer to these lands as amenities adding to the attractiveness of their developments. Increased property values benefit local governments by increasing property tax collections without raising the millage rate.


What is swamp land worth? In the 1930s – not much. The land was ditched and drained. Today we know maintaining fragile ecosystems has great economic value. Natural ecosystems provide services like: gas regulation, water regulation, erosion control, soil formation, nutrient cycling, waste treatment, pollination, food production, raw materials and others. One hectare (2.47 acres) of coastal land provides approximately $12,568 worth of ecosystem services annually. One hectare of forest land provides $4,700 worth of services annually, one hectare of wetlands provides almost $4,900 annually, and one hectare of swamps and floodplains provides an annual value of over $3,200 in services.


World wide natural ecosystems, or biomes, provide $33 trillion in ecosystem services – twice the global Gross National Product.

Visualizing a monetary value of ecosystem services is difficult. Look at the costs of replacing or repairing these services to understand their importance, such as the tremendous costs of restoring the Everglades and the damage that has been done to Florida Bay. Water shortages in many partsoof the state and the costs of desalination, reverse osmosis and other systems illustrate the economic value and importance of upland aquifer recharge areas. The loss of water cleansing and nutrient recycling by straightening the Kissimmee River and the cost of replacing the old oxbows of the river illustrate the economic benefit of a river and floodplain system.

In summary, Florida’s landmark P2000 program has a clear economic benefit – from the creation of jobs, money flowing into local economies and sales taxes to the state’s general revenue fund – to the economic savings from avoiding urban sprawl on conservation lands – to the less quantifiable economic value of ecosystem services provided by conservation and recreation lands. Past and future environmental land acquisition programs will continue to fuel Florida’s economy. Florida’s natural resources are the basis for our multi-billion dollar tourist industry and benefit all its residents. A successful conservation program is fundamental to Florida’s economic future.

For More Information: Contact the Division of State Lands, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
(850) 245-2555

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Last updated: June 22, 2016

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