The Florida Preservation 2000 Program Remaining Needs
and Priorities Study
Published: October 1, 1997
Conservation and recreation lands purchased under the states
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 Protections (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.
DEPs 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,
Dunedins 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
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 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, Floridas 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, Floridas landmark P2000 program has a clear economic
benefit from the creation of jobs, money flowing into local
economies and sales taxes to the states 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
Floridas economy. Floridas natural resources are the basis for
our multi-billion dollar tourist industry and benefit all its
residents. A successful conservation program is fundamental to
Floridas economic future.
For More Information:
Contact the Division of State Lands, Florida Department of Environmental