Best Nature-Friendly Places to Live in the U.S. Announced Today

Protecting Nature Reaps Millions for Local Economies

Jun 24, 2005, 01:00 ET from Island Press

    WASHINGTON, June 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The best nature-friendly places to
 live in the United States were announced today in a new book published by
 Island Press.   Entitled "Nature-Friendly Communities," the book highlights
 nineteen communities that lead the nation in safeguarding local landscapes,
 natural resources and wildlife.  It is the first resource of its kind to
 provide a step-by-step guide to help government officials and planners protect
 open space and natural areas while promoting economic growth.
     "More than 80 million of us fish, hunt, and watch wildlife annually,
 spending $108 billion on equipment and trips associated with nature-related
 activities, with $40 billion linked to wildlife watching alone," said Chris
 Duerksen, author of "Nature-Friendly Communities," which hit bookstores today.
 "For the first time, nature enthusiasts have a resource for choosing among the
 nation's best places to live and visit."
     Creating nature-friendly communities not only improves the quality of life
 for residents but also reaps millions of dollars for local economies,
 according to the book.  Property values rise, boosting tax revenues;
 infrastructure costs decline; new employers move in, expanding the job base;
 and tourism increases.  While state and federal governments continue to weaken
 wildlife and nature-related protections, cities, towns and counties are
 stepping up efforts to protect nature, improving the lives of local residents
 and cashing in on a multi-billion dollar opportunity.
     "In the face of rampant development which is eating up America's open
 space, communities have employed creative conservation measures that actually
 promote economic growth and vitality -- not inhibit it," added Duerksen.
 "These communities are learning that protecting nature makes not just good
 sense but good dollars and cents.  And a growing number of communities are
 joining the ranks in taking bold steps to invest in their natural assets."
     The benefits of nature-friendly communities affect residents of all income
 levels.  For example, citizens exercise more frequently if a greenway is
 nearby; more trees and vegetation provide better air quality; and low income
 residents of urban areas that protect nature are more likely to have access to
 affordable recreational opportunities.
     "Nature-Friendly Communities" shines a spotlight on the most successful
 approaches to protecting nature and the great work happening in communities
 across the country.  And it provides public officials and planning
 professionals, working on the local and regional levels, with how-to tools to
 incorporate natural area protection in city and county planning efforts.
     "Americans have shown time and again they are willing to pay for nature
 protection," added Duerksen.  "We consistently approve funding measures for
 land conservation whether our local economies are thriving or not.   This book
 shows that if citizens make the commitment they can easily transform their
 communities into nature-friendly areas.  The tools are there for all
 communities, regardless of size, political bent, or economic health."
                        2005 Nature-Friendly Communities
     Below is the list of the nineteen nature-friendly communities.   Loudoun
 County, VA originally made the list, but recent political developments
 undermine nature-friendly measures. So rather than remove it, the author uses
 Loudoun as an example of the fragile nature of well-intended plans in the face
 of political pressures.
     Austin, TX               Sanibel, FL             Farmington Valley, CT
     Baltimore County, MD     Twin Cities, MN         King County, WA
     Dane County, WI          Bath Township, OH       Pittsford, NY
     Eugene, OR               Charlotte Harbor, FL    Powell County, MT
     Fort Collins, CO         Chicago, IL             Teton County, WY
     Pima County, AZ          Dekalb County, GA       Traverse Bay, MI
     Placer County, CA
     Chris Duerksen is a nationally recognized land use planning consultant who
 has worked with local governments all over the country.   He is Managing
 Director of Clarion Associates and a cofounder of the Rocky Mountain Land Use
 Institute.  He has authored many books and articles on land use and
 conservation issues.  And he served two terms on the Fredericksburg, VA city
 council.  Cara Snyder is an independent consultant and writer. She was
 formerly an associate at Clarion Associates and has a Master of Science in
 Environmental Education from the Audubon Expedition Institute at Lesley
     About Island Press:
     Island Press is the only nonprofit organization in the United States whose
 principle purpose is the publication of books on environmental issues and
 natural resource management.  The publisher provides solutions-oriented
 information to professionals, public officials, business and community
 leaders, and concerned citizens who are shaping responses to environmental
     For more information:

SOURCE Island Press